For those of us with children or grandchildren, we just want what’s best for them. Juice can be a good source of nutrients for growing kids, but it also carries the risk of negatively affecting their oral health. Making the right decision for your child’s needs isn’t easy, especially with the array of choices at the modern grocery store.
Understanding how fruit juice can affect baby teeth, along with kids’ overall health, can help you make a confident decision the next time your toddler asks for a drink.
Juice, Sugar & Baby Teeth
While fruit juice is a good source of vitamin C, most of them also come with a high sugar content, even when it’s naturally occurring. High amounts of sugar can cause tooth decay for children, just as it can with grown-ups. Along with sugars, many fruit juices are fairly acidic, which will also attack the surface of your children’s teeth.
Whole fruit is actually better for your children’s teeth, as those natural sugars are contained inside the structure of the fruit – and only released once the fruit is juiced or blended. Whole fruits also retain the fiber that fruit juice does not, which your children need.
At What Age is Juice Okay?
Most pediatricians recommend that children under the age of one not be given any fruit juice at all. Aside from the effects on baby teeth, at very young ages, fruit juice may contribute to obesity, and too much can cause gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
“For parents, the first takeaway is that there is no routine role for fruit juice in the first year of life,” Dr. Steven Abrams, chair of pediatrics at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School, told Forbes. “A baby’s diet in the first six months should exclusively come from breastmilk and/or formula.”
Once your children reach toddler stage or a little older, it’s alright to begin introducing juice into their diet, but in limited amounts, and preferably watered down.
What Amounts are Recommended?
For toddlers (ages 1 to 3), pediatricians recommend giving them no more than four ounces, or half a cup, per day. This should not be placed in a sippy cup or a bottle – this allows the child to sip at the juice throughout the day, letting sugars sit on their teeth longer and contribute to decay. You should likewise avoid giving kids juice right before bed time.
For children aged 4 to 6, no more than four to six ounces of juice a day is recommended, and for children aged 7 to 18, no more than eight ounces (or one cup) is recommended.
To account for the acidity of juice, it is also recommended that you dilute fruit juice half and half with water for small children.
How Dr. Lordo’s Office Can Help
Scheduling a pediatric appointment with our professionals is one of the best ways to start your child’s dental health on the right foot. Our office is friendly and welcoming, and your child will get a gentle, fun cleaning and fluoride treatment, and we will also show them the correct way to brush and floss. Call us at 614-885-4754 or visit us online to schedule their first appointment.