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Parents of toddlers often give their children juice throughout the day in the hopes that they will consume crucial vitamins through the tasty beverage.

What many mothers and fathers may not realize is how much sugar is naturally included—and added to—fruit juice.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 52% of Americans drink sugary beverages every day.

If your drink spectrum consists mostly of store-bought juices, smoothies, or sodas, then you may be taking in or giving your kids more sugar than you realize.

In a study by CNN health, the conclusion showed that two-thirds of children in the United States drink at least one sugar-added drink every day and about 30 percent drank two or more every day.

Why Is Juice a Bad Choice?

In general, juices are full of empty calories and can have tons of sugar added to them. For some juices, the sugar content is around the same amount as a can of soda!

When you carefully examine the labels and opt for 100 percent juice (or dilute your child’s serving with water), you can decrease their sugar intake. However, they are still missing some essential nutrients that only fresh fruit can offer.

The potentially damaging effects of taking in too much sugar include dental caries (cavities), obesity, and other diseases like diabetes.

What Causes Tooth Decay in Children?

The main culprits for cavities are sugar and acid. The bacteria in our mouths, when mixed with sugar, create acid. This acid destroys the outer layer of the teeth (the enamel).

Corrosion leads to tooth decay and dental caries developing over time.

Children who are not offered sugary drinks such as juices tend to have fewer dental concerns growing up.

What if My Children Will Only Drink Juice?

If you continue to serve juice in your home, you can dilute it with water and have your kids drink it through a straw. Limit their daily intake and monitor how much they consume. Only serve pasteurized, pure juice and make sure they finish well before bedtime.

Serving Guidelines

Many dentists agree on this general timeline for giving your children daily fruit juice.

  • Up to 12 months: None
  • One year to three years: Serve up to four ounces in a cup for quick consumption
  • Four to six years: Up to six ounces
  • Seven years and older: Up to eight ounces

The Bottom Line

Although dentists recommend serving alternatives to sugary fruit drinks, you may still choose to have them as an option for your family. We have included some ideas for which beverages are a better option below.

Tips for Healthier Oral Health for Your Child

  • Stick to juices with more vitamins, such as berry, grape, orange, tomato, and vegetable blends.
  • Do not allow more than six ounces of juice in a day, and dilute their juice with tap water.
  • Try serving almond, rice, soy, or whole milk or plain sparkling water instead of juice. You can even add fruits or vegetables to their water for added color and flavor. Be creative!
  • Teach your kids to brush their teeth after eating or drinking to cut down the risk of cavities.
  • Serve beverages in an open cup rather than a sippy cup or bottle; this allows quicker consumption rather than allowing the juice to soak on the teeth throughout the day.

It may be easier to convince your child to drink flavorful juices, but it is important to limit their intake, brush their teeth after drinking a sugary beverage, and encourage eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables for a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Ideally, children should be drinking water and milk instead of juices to help avoid dental concerns.

Little girl drinking milk with a huge smile on her face.

Milk and alternative drinks to juices or soda are a great option for children and adults.

Schedule a Consultation

Are you unsure of how to incorporate healthy dental habits into your child’s routine? We are happy to help!

Schedule your personal consultation with Dr. Gum in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, today by calling 610-746-0488 or filling out an online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!