While most parents are well aware that too much sugar is a bad thing for their child’s teeth and overall health, there can still be some confusion within certain areas here. One of these areas: Do ostensibly healthier items like fruit juice, which contain more natural sugars rather than processed sugars, create some of the same risks and issues for children?
At Southridge Pediatric Dentistry, we’re here to provide numerous child dental services, from basic dental cleanings and checkups to more advanced themes like dental X-rays, sedation dentistry and more. We also offer expertise and basic tips in numerous areas for parents as they try to keep their child’s mouth as healthy as possible, and one of the common questions we get here is regarding sugars, fruit drinks and what’s acceptable for children here. Let’s go over some general themes to keep in mind.
Natural Sugars Still Carry Risks
As we noted above, there’s a normal inclination among many parents to separate processed sugars, like you’d find in candy and various sodas, from natural sugars, like those you’d find in fruit. This inclination isn’t even entirely misplaced – these sugars are indeed different, and processed sugars do generally pose larger risks to child teeth and overall health.
However, this reality leaves open the risk of glossing over another simple fact that’s also true: Natural sugars are still a risk. Did you realize that a single glass of apple juice may contain over 10 teaspoons of sugar, for instance? That’s roughly the same amount found in most sodas, and some fruit juices will have even more. And even though the sugar is natural here, fruit juice contains citric acid that will erode the surface of tooth enamel over time, eating away at this protective coating.
Limiting Sugar Intake
For this reason, the American Association of Pediatrics has recently changed its guidelines for sugar intake, particularly related to children and fruit juices. For starters, they recommend that children under one year of age not be given fruit juice at all unless it’s to manage constipation or another condition, in which case it should be recommended by a doctor.
Further, they recommend that fruit juices for young children generally be replaced with fresh fruits where possible, as these are healthier for both their bodies and their teeth. While some fruit juice in moderation is okay for your child, especially once they’re getting closer to teenage years, limiting this is the name of the game.
Especially if your child has already taken a liking to fruit juice, taking steps to replace this with water alternatives is important. Children who drink juice throughout the day will be at incredibly high risk of cavities and tooth decay due to the sugar, so replacing this habit with tooth-friendly water instead as early as possible is a move you should make.
For more on fruit juice, natural sugars and how to protect your child’s teeth, or to learn about any of our pediatric dental services, speak to the staff at Southridge Pediatric Dentistry today.