Well-meaning parents seeking to load up their kids with vitamins and nutrients by feeding them fruit juices and smoothies could be inadvertently doing some serious harm to their children's teeth. Sugar-laden drinks and especially citrus fruit-based drinks – even the all-natural, fresh kind – contain acids that can erode the enamel that protects young teeth from rot, according to scholars.
The British Dental Association found that 25 percent of toddlers regularly drink fruit juices. The Royal College of Surgeons in the UK estimates that 50 percent of five-year-olds are exhibiting signs of weakened teeth. The epidemic has been linked to rising over-consumption of fruit juices.
Fruit juices versus sodas
While eating whole fruits can at times benefit the teeth and gums, with vitamin C helping to build collagen from the gums and producing anti-bacterial saliva, the act of crushing those fruits releases more sugars, according to the British Dental Association. In fact, some fruit smoothies and juices can end up being even worse for your teeth than certain sodas.
Servings of juices still count as fruit servings and can be part of a good diet, so here are a few tips to help mitigate the effects of fruit juices and smoothies on teeth:
· Go with a straw : The problem is worse when toddlers drink from bottles, experts say, as the liquids are more likely to bathe the teeth when consumed that way. Drinking through a straw reduces exposure to the sugar and acids in juice.
· Water it down : Swishing some water into the juice can help dilute concentrated juices. It's also a good idea not to get youngsters too hooked on overly sugary beverages, as their palettes will become used to these flavors.
· Know the recommended limits : It's advised that children not drink more than 150 mL of 100% fruit juice a day, about 2/3 cup. That's considered an adequate volume to make up one serving of the five-a-day recommended portions of fruits and vegetables for youngsters.
· Drink with food : Save those smoothies for consumption at meal times. Taking sips between mouthfuls of food will lessen the impact of acidity on enamel.
· Get a cup of water : It's always a good idea to rinse out with water. A gulp of water between meals of drinks can help wash away residual acids and sugars that you would not want to linger on your teeth.
Avoid permanent damage by brushing smartly
Correct brush techniques and the use of a fluoridated toothpaste can also help to strengthen enamel.
However, despite this may sound counter-intuitive, remember that brushing your teeth immediately after drinking fruit juices can actually damage your teeth further. This is particularly true if the juices or smoothies contained acidic fruits such as grapefruit, pineapple or oranges because the citric acid softens the enamel.
It's best to wait an hour to avoid what's known as brushing abrasion, in which the enamel is worn away due to the pH levels in your mouth. Your saliva should neutralize the acidity after an hour, making it safer to brush afterwards.
Source by Karina Wisekopf