Juice: A Healthy Treat or A Cavity Culprit?

Juice: A Healthy Treat or A Cavity Culprit?

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Juice is a go-to beverage for children. Kids love the sweet taste of juice, and juice boxes are an easy drink for parents to have on hand at all times. Juice comes from fruit, so it must be healthy, right?

The Bittersweet Truth of Juice

Fruit is high in essential vitamins and nutrients and is an essential part of a balanced diet. However, even though fruit is at the top of the ingredient list of most juices, it has significantly less nutritional value than whole fruit. Many juices are not even 100% juice. Juice blends, juice cocktails, juice drinks, or fruit punch often have added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and sometimes even high-fructose corn syrup. The actual percentage of juice in these beverages is lower than many parents may think.

One hundred percent fruit juice is better for teeth than juice blends. However, 100% fruit juice should still only be consumed in moderation. A glass of apple, grape, or cranberry juice often contains more sugar than a can of soda! Now, if you wouldn’t give your child soda multiple times a day, you may want to reconsider giving them juice consistently.

Oral Health Considerations

Tooth decay is the most common chronic condition in children. While multiple factors put children at risk for developing cavities, many dental professionals believe that frequent juice consumption contributes to childhood cavities. Juice has two characteristics that make it unhealthy for developing smiles: sugar content and acidity levels.

Sugar Content: Juice is high in sugar. Therefore, the more juice your child drinks, the higher their cavity risk is. If your child sips on juice for extended periods, their enamel is under attack for the entire duration they are drinking it.

Acidity: Fruit, particularly citrus fruits, are acidic. Frequent exposure to these low pH levels erodes the enamel, leaving your child susceptible to tooth decay and sensitivity.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under age 6 should drink no more than 4-6 oz of juice a day, and kids over 6 should consume no more than 8 oz of juice daily. Only giving your child these suggested portions of juice should not negatively impact your child’s dental health. However, if you are looking for some alternative healthy beverages, try out some of the options listed below:

Healthy Beverages For Little Smiles:

  • Dilute 100% fruit juice with water
  • Fruit smoothies without added sugar
  • Milk
  • Water

It is okay to give your child juice as a treat, but juice is not the best source of fruit for children. Whole fruits or homemade fruit smoothies are much better options. Your child will receive the full nutritional benefits and a lower risk of developing tooth decay. Our caring dentists, Dr. Nicki Tajalli, Dr. Sid Ahmadi and Dr. Ruben Sauceda look forward to helping your child’s smile! Call our Uptown Dentistry team today at 713-963-9191 and schedule a dental visit in Houston, Texas!