It’s no secret that soft drinks are hard on your teeth, but did you know that just one bottle of soda or energy drink sipped over a number of hours can cause irreversible and extensive damage to tooth enamel? This is because when acid continuously attacks teeth they do not have an opportunity to repair themselves, and a sip of a sugary drink constitutes an attack that lasts 20 minutes. Even worse, each sip you take starts another attack. The enamel on your teeth is attacked and softened by the soft drinks, which can lead to cavities and worse. The prevention of enamel loss is vital to the long-term health of your teeth, and should be a priority in your children’s dental hygiene.
Soft drinks, diet soft drinks and high energy sports drinks are the worst culprits for high acid levels and should be avoided as much as possible. And, if the contents of the drinks weren’t bad enough, producers of these drinks have incredibly increased their portion sizes by up to three times since the 1950s!
Preparing your children for good dental hygiene
As with many adult habits, our dental hygiene practices are formed from a young age – the importance of teaching your children to look after their teeth cannot be overstated. And good dental hygiene and habits from childhood could save your children a lot of pain, stress and money as they progress to adulthood. Avoiding soft drinks will be a great step in the direction of good dental hygiene. So set a good example for them and stock the fridge up with water and milk. Most water in Victoria contains fluoride, which is good for their teeth. If they do have the occasional soft drink, make sure it is not before bedtime, teach them to use a straw – so exposure to the sugar and acid in the drink is reduced – and not to sip it over a long period.
We recommend you take your child for a full oral health assessment before the age of two, and discuss their risk level and how regularly they should have check up with your dentist. You should help them with brushing their teeth up to the age of 7 or 8, and check their mouth afterwards to be sure they are removing all of the plaque. It’s also prudent to check regularly for early signs of tooth decay.
Our top five tooth care tips for your children:
- Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste thoroughly (for two minutes) after every meal preferably, or at least every morning and night
- Educate them about not drinking soft drinks, or only very occasionally and in small quantities.
- If they do, use a straw and rinse out your mouth with tap water afterwards
- Wait for an least an hour before brushing your teeth after a soft drink, allowing the enamel to recover
- Water, water, water! Drinking water instead of soft drinks will not only do wonders for their teeth, but has myriad other health benefits, including helping a more stable blood sugar level