We all know that food and drink are major contributors to tooth decay but drinks are especially problematic as they are more likely to “coat” all of your teeth, front and back, in comparison to food. The fact is that everyone needs to drink on a daily basis but there are so many choices now on the market, many of which contain large amounts of sugar that it’s more crucial than ever that people know what’s in their drinks.
The Worst Offenders
Fruit juices and smoothies are actually recommended from a health standpoint, however, it’s important to remember that as with most things, moderation is key and of course although there are health benefits to juices, containing natural fruits, the downside is that with natural fruits come natural sugars. And although natural sugars are better than refined sugars, usually found in cakes and treats, they are still sugar-heavy and they can have a detrimental impact over time if consumed in large quantities. Orange juice is full of vitamin C but we wouldn’t recommend drinking it soon after brushing your teeth as it’s acidic nature can strip the fluoride from your teeth if you drink too soon and generally, a straw is recommended as not only is it technically bad for your teeth, it can also stain. It’s not just orange juice though. Some of the main culprits include:
- Lemonade (fresh and 7-Up)
- Heavy milkshakes
- Ribena and concentrated juices
The worst offenders are certainly sugary pop drinks which can contain (as with coke) up to as much as 40 teaspoons of sugar per-can. There is on average around 15.5 cubes of sugar in Lucozade and drinks such as Frijj milkshakes contain around 12.7 cubes of sugar. When considering how often these drinks are consumed, whether at home or in restaurants or bars, it’s frightening to know how much sugar we are as a nation consuming on a daily basis, just through those drinks, and this is before we even consider the sugar in most foods.
Lucozade is heavy with sugar but it is technically an energy drink and so because of this classification, it’s not really meant to be consumed as a daily “pop” drink but rather after a workout. However,they have become popular alongside other energy drinks which are a problem when it comes to sugar content.
Monster branded drinks are very popular now and are being consumed in the mornings and afternoons as a “pick-me-up” solution because of its caffeine content and although there isn’t as much sugar generally in this particular drink, many people including children are consuming multiple cans a day, with it’s branding and marketing being targeted at younger people.
One of the questions many ask, is does marketing have to change on our drinks labelling? Branding can be incredibly powerful and it can impact our emotions towards a particular product. Energy drinks and soda pop definitely fall into this category but perhaps there needs to be clearer packaging when it comes to what they contain.
Sugar is the biggest issue with pop and juices but they are marketed in such a way so as to appeal to youngsters. However, even when parents or adults shop for snacks and treats, as well as drink bottles and cans, it’s not easy to see how much sugar is in them unless you seek the information out by looking at the small detail bar on the packaging. By making this information more available and quicker to see, perhaps consumers could make better decisions on whether to buy that bottle of pop or that pack of energy drinks. This is an ideal scenario though because the fact is, we have the information available to us and there is so much in the way of public knowledge of the sugar content in today’s food and drink options, that maybe we just choose to ignore it.
We know that sugary foods and drinks can impact our dental health. The sugar content in them gradually wears away the enamel and dentin on the teeth by creating bacteria which produce acids and attack the teeth, causing decay and eventually cavities.
The fact is that we are all aware that chocolate and sugary drinks and cakes and treats are bad for our teeth but perhaps we ignore these facts in favour of consuming our favourite beverages. We drink things which are not 100% healthy for us, which is understandable, as we as humans don’t want to be restricted and told no, when so much of our lives is dictated by rules. The sugar damage involved however, when consumed in large quantities is frightening especially in very young children and we are seeing more cases of tooth decay across the board every year, as well as problems with obesity and other health complications, not just teeth.
If the damage to our health is not enough of a warning sign, the visible and sometimes painful damage to our teeth from sugar consumption certainly should be.