A Pediatric Dentist Explains What Sugary Drinks Can Do to Your Child’s Teeth

Pediatric Dentist Phoenix, AZ

Most children have a sweet tooth, but a pediatric dentist is likely to recommend that parents significantly limit sugary choices for children. Too much sugar can be bad for digestion, growth, and overall health, and it can lead to numerous dental issues. While plenty of foods can be high in sugar, sweetened drinks can often be the worst offenders.

How sugary drinks affect dental health

Consuming sugar starts a chain reaction in the mouth that can lead to tooth decay. The sugars stick to the surfaces of the teeth and attract harmful bacteria that produce acid, which weakens tooth enamel and can wear it down over time. When a section of the enamel barrier is destroyed, bacteria can now pass through and cause serious problems, including pain, infection, and potential tooth loss.

Any type of sugary food can increase the risk of tooth decay; however, sweetened beverages can be particularly harmful to teeth. This is especially true if someone slowly sips a sugary drink; sipping exposes the teeth to sugar for extended periods of time, restarting the acid production process over and over until the drink is gone.

Tooth decay risks in children

Kids tend to consume more sugar on a daily basis than most healthy adults, which means an increased risk for cavities. When sugary drinks become part of a child's daily diet, the potential for developing tooth decay rises significantly. However, there are other factors that make children far more susceptible to dental caries when excess sugar is involved.

Most children are not able to effectively clean their teeth independently until the age of six. Misaligned or crowded teeth and a lack of fine motor skills can make toothbrushing even more difficult. A pediatric dentist may recommend continued observation and intervention to ensure proper brushing and flossing at home. It can be challenging for busy parents to make time for toothbrushing, especially with older kids. However, proper home care is still the primary defense against tooth decay and should be a top priority for parents.

Children are often exposed to more germs and bacteria than adults. Most children place their hands or foreign objects into their mouths throughout the day, which provides more opportunities for bacteria to enter the mouth. Combined with the fact that kids often have weaker enamel from poor habits or tooth damage, the chances for decay are high.

Better choices for healthier teeth

When it comes to dental and overall health, water is always the beverage of choice. Sodas, sports drinks, and even juice should be served as an occasional treat, not as an everyday option. Plain milk does contain a substantial amount of natural sugar but it is important for growing and developing children. Pediatric dentists and other health professionals typically recommend serving it as a beverage at meals instead of offering it throughout the day once a child reaches the age of two.


Limiting a child's consumption of sugary drinks can help ward off tooth decay and unnecessary dental work. When combined with excellent home care and routine visits with a pediatric dentist, your child can enjoy stronger, healthier teeth.

Request an appointment here: https://nettsmiles.com or call Nett Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics at (623) 759-7658 for an appointment in our Phoenix office.

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