Sugar-Free Drinks & Children’s Dental Health

Sugar-Free Drinks & Children’s Dental Health
Posted on 09/11/2023

Mom helping toddler drink for a bottleFor years, dentists and health groups have been telling you about the dangers of sugars when paired with your child's dental health. While sugars can cause a lot of damage to the teeth and the gums, they are not the only concern for the mouth. You may find yourself feeling more relaxed giving your child sugar-free drinks, but the problems could persist.

A child may drink sugar-free drinks, but you should be aware of what they are consuming and the best ways to help keep their teeth healthy in the long run. Learn what to look out for so you do not get surprised if a cavity appears.

Iced Tea, Juice & Tooth Staining

While sugar-free drinks may lessen the chances for cavities, some drinks could increase the chances for stained teeth. When a child drinks darker drinks like iced tea or juice, you may find that their teeth become discolored over time. Artificially colored juices like fruit punch can create tooth stains, even without sugar in the mix.

These drinks will create a stained layer on their teeth. The stains may slowly appear over time and worsen with the more drinks they consume. You will especially notice the staining on the front teeth.

While this may not be a major concern for baby teeth, the problem can worsen when their adult teeth grow in. You do not want the discoloration to become a permanent part of their teeth. If staining has occurred, then your child may wish to seek out a whitening treatment to make the teeth look fully white again when they reach their teenage years.

Carbonated Water & Acids

Water is often the most ideal drink for kids, but they may seek something different in the form of carbonated water. While the fizzy taste may seem more appealing to children, the acids found in the water can actually create problems for the teeth. The acids used for the bubbles can wear away at the enamel, whether sugar is present in the water or not.

If a child's enamel wears down, then their teeth may become more sensitive to different temperatures. They could become more prone to cavities. Even with sugar-free carbonated water, you should consider the drink a treat and not something they consume on a regular basis. The reduction in acids will help protect their smile.

Sugar-Free Sodas

Regular soda creates major problems for the mouth. The sodas will typically contain a mixture of acids, sugars, and caffeine. So when you eliminate the sugar with the purchase of a diet soda, you are only eliminating the sugars. Much like the carbonated water, the acids can create damage on the teeth and wear down enamel over time.

You also will find concerns with the caffeine. While the caffeine will not impact the teeth directly, it could cause children to act different with so much caffeine in their bodies. For example, a child may clench their teeth more when they have too much caffeine. The pressure from clenched teeth could result in mouth damage.

If a child drinks diet soda too close to bedtime, then they may grind their teeth at night due to the caffeine and cause more damage. Look for drinks with zero caffeine and limit the intake to hours before bedtime so their oral health is not impacted in a negative way.

Instead of viewing diet soda as an everyday alternative, you can treat the drink like you would with others and make the drink a special drink for children to have. Children can look forward to the drink more and enjoy the flavors better.

You can look for sugar-free options that also do not include caffeine. Examples include a wide range of root beers or clear soda options. With these options, the only element you need to worry about are the acids.

Acidic Drinks & Brushing

When a child does have an acidic sugar-free drink, you may want them to brush the acids off right away. Often, this is not the best solution for their mouth. If a child brushes right away, then they could rub the acids into the teeth and create even more damage. After a child consumes an acidic drink, you should have them rinse their mouth out with water.

The water will help rinse their teeth off and clear out the acids so they don't sit on the teeth or between the teeth. After thirty minutes, a child can brush their teeth properly without inflicting as much damage. The acid damage is another reason you will not want to give a child acidic drinks so close to bedtime.

Keep your child's mouth healthy and clean with our services at Dentistry For Children & Adolescents. We will help take care of your child's smile and ensure they start off on the right path to oral health success. We can answer any questions you have about foods and drinks.


Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

  • Edina Office - 7373 France Ave. S., Suite 402, Edina, MN 55435 Phone: 952-831-4400
  • Burnsville Office - 14050 Nicollet Ave., Suite 100, Burnsville, MN 55337 Phone: 952-435-4102
  • Eden Prairie Office - 6385 Old Shady Oak Road, Suite 150, Eden Prairie , MN 55344 Phone: 952-932-0920

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