Helpful Pediatric Dentistry Tips!

Drinks That Are Harmful and Helpful to Your Child’s Teeth

by Dr. Steve Whittemore, D.D.S. | Published March 29, 2017

The American Heart Association recommends children consume fewer than six teaspoons of added sugars per day, meaning children, including those in their teenage years, should limit their intake of sugar-sweetened drinks to no more than eight ounces weekly. Children under the age of 2 years should not consume food or beverages with added sugars, including sugar-sweetened drinks (juice). Consuming more than the recommended amount of sugar per day can lead to tooth enamel damage, which ultimately causes cavities and other oral issues. Below are some of the best and worst drinks for your child’s teeth.

Harmful Drinks for Your Child’s Teeth

Fruit Juices

Juice is often a common staple in a family’s household with young children. Just four ounces of grape juice contains four teaspoons of sugar. Many sippy cups are six ounces or more. If your child must drink fruit juice, allow for small quantities only, and make sure you’re buying juice that is 100% fruit juice. Remember that eating a piece of fruit, instead of juice, is a much better option.


A 12-ounce can of regular Coca-Cola contains just over nine teaspoons of sugar and zero nutrients. Sodas are filled with citric acid and phosphorous, which deteriorates tooth enamel. Staying away from sodas completely will avoid exposing to your child’s teeth to unhealthy levels of sugar and acid.

Sports Juices

Gatorade and Powerade have become a go-to for most kids’ sporting events. However, next time you are in charge providing the drinks for your child’s sporting event, keep in mind they actually contain just as much sugar as soda does. Sports drinks also contain an unhealthy amount of sodium.

Helpful Drinks for Your Child’s Teeth


According to the American Dental Association (ADA), one of the best drinks for your child to consume is water. Water, especially water containing fluoride, strengthens tooth enamel. Water cleans your child’s teeth of acids or any leftover foods. It also helps restore the pH balance in your mouth to fight unhealthy levels of acid.


Milk contains calcium, which assists in bone and teeth strength. Milk also helps fight tooth decay because it is filled with a protein substance called casein. Milk is a good drink choice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, avoid giving your child a bottle of milk before bed. This can cause baby bottle tooth decay, which causes cavities in infants and young children.

Find Fun Ways to Drink Water

Drinking water can get old fast for your toddler, so try to find ways to make it more interesting. Below are a few ideas to add some flavors to your water that are healthy for their teeth.

  • Chill water with frozen fruits
  • Freeze small fruits into their ice cubes
  • Add mint leaves to water (for older kids)

Visit Us At Pediatric Dentistry in Des Moines and Ankeny

Most importantly, set an example for your children. Drink water and milk, and they’ll be more likely to follow in your footsteps. If you’re worried your child’s liquid sugar intake is too high, visit our office. We can evaluate your child’s teeth and determine a plan that’s best.

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