Sweetened beverages have become a popular indulgence for many Americans on a daily basis. However, these drinks are detrimental to our dental well-being and smiles. Our mouths harbor harmful bacteria that feed on the sugars we consume. While the bacteria derive energy from sugar, they also produce acid that can damage our teeth, leading to cavities and erosion.


 Surprisingly, even seemingly "healthy" or "all-natural" drinks often contain excessive amounts of sugar. Don't be fooled by juices either! A glass of apple juice can contain a similar sugar content to a glass of soda. According to the USDA, sugar should account for no more than 10% of our daily caloric intake. For women, this equates to 10-15 teaspoons per day, while men should aim for 12.5-18.75 teaspoons. Just a single glass of apple juice can nearly max out the daily limit for many people.


Lots of Sugar

  • Soda
  • Energy drinks
  • Chocolate milk
  • Smoothies
  • Fruit punch or juice

Better Choices

  • Water
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Milk
  • Plain sparkling water
  • Diluted juice

 While eliminating sugary beverages altogether is ideal, reducing consumption and opting for healthier alternatives with less sugar is a step in the right direction. Here's a list of sugary drinks to avoid and better choices to consider. The "better choice" options have little to no sugar, minimizing the opportunity for oral bacteria to cause harm and generate damaging acid. Water, in particular, can contain fluoride, which helps protect teeth against cavities. Milk, with its calcium content, also contributes to strong teeth. If you or your children have a cow's milk allergy, try unsweetened milk substitutes (such as almond, soy, or rice milk) fortified with calcium.


 If you can't resist your sweetened morning coffee, tea, or juice, there are still measures you can take to safeguard your teeth. Consider the following suggestions:


  1. Drink, don't sip: Sipping prolongs the exposure of sugar to bacteria, increasing the likelihood of cavities. Consume sweetened coffees, teas, or sodas in one go, rather than sipping on them over an extended period. If you give your child juice, limit it to mealtimes only, and provide water in a sippy cup for them to carry throughout the day.
  1. Embrace fluoride: If your community has fluoridated water, drink tap water to enhance your dental health. Fluoride protects teeth and has contributed to a decline in cavities nationwide.
  1. Brush and clean between your teeth: Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once daily. Consult your dentist for the best techniques. Ensure that children under eight years old brush and floss effectively, and make regular visits to the dentist.


 Understanding which drinks contain sugar and the detrimental effects of sugar-sweetened beverages on dental health is a valuable starting point. Establish goals for your family to follow these tips. As healthy habits begin at a young age, assist your children in making informed choices about their beverage consumption. By setting a positive example, you will all enjoy healthier smiles and a brighter future.


References: Sugar, Drinks and Dental Health | MouthHealthy - Oral Health Information from the ADA (American Dental Association, 미국 구강 보건 협회)