Mothers and fathers hear this from their children from toddlers to teens. The action we take in reaction to this request can set our children up for either a lifetime of good dental and physical health, or for a lifetime of poor choices that can lead to dental and physical problems.
As parents, the choices we have include milk, juices, soda, Gatorade, energy drinks, and water. In order to make a healthy choice we need to know what these drinks contain. Milk and juices are filled with nutrients that children need. Juices however, also have a high citric acid content and milk has a high sugar content so these are good choices with meals when their saliva increases, washing away the acids and sugars.
There is the temptation to give our children sodas, Gatorade, and energy drinks. Is this a healthy choice? Probably not, especially if it is in a sippy cup or used between meals. The following chart compares the acid and sugar content of common choices.
|Product||Acid Low=BAD||Sugar per 12 oz|
|Pure Water||7.00 (neutral)||0.0|
|Mountain Dew||3.22||11.0 tsp.|
|Coke Classic||2.63||9.3 tsp.|
|Diet Dr. Pepper||3.41||0.0|
|Hawaiian Fruit Punch||2.82||10.2|
|Orange Minute Maid||2.80||11.2|
|Source: Minnesota Dental Association *||The threshold pH for enamel dissolution is 5.5.|
Water has a neutral pH and is harmless. Battery acid destroys tooth enamel. Many common drink choices are listed from “better” to “worse”, showing both acid and sugar content.
Another important thing to remember when making choices is that soft drinks are linked to lower bone density in adolescent girls. There is also concern that soft drink consumption often replaces milk consumption. This can lead to calcium deficiencies. The empty calories in soda are also a factor in the rapid increase in childhood obesity.
So, the next time your child says, “Mommy, I’m thirsty!” think about your reaction to this request. Between meals, water is the best choice in helping your child learn about and maintain good dental and physical health.