If you are a juice drinker have you thought about what the main ingredient is in fruit juice? Surprisingly sugar is the main ingredient, which is why it’s not entirely safe or beneficial for your teeth or general health. As I have mentioned in past blogs, sugar is harmful to your teeth and bacteria feeds off it. The sugar is converted to acid which wears away tooth enamel overtime causing cavities. Fruit juices are often referred to as a beneficial way to intake different nutrients, such as vitamin C and antioxidants. Although, there may be some truth behind that, it’s important to know they are also filled with tooth-damaging acids. Cranberry Juice has been known to help prevent UTI’s and also helps fight heart disease by raising HDL “good” cholesterol and lowering higher levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol. Orange Juice has been linked to improving blood vessel function and lowering risk of heart disease. If your doctor has recommended it for you, or you simply enjoy juice remember it’s all about moderation, and not sipping on it all day. It’s recommended no more than one glass a day with a meal. When you combine eating with drinking it helps wash away more of the sugars, and keeps them from sitting on your teeth. This also makes sure that you are only lowering your oral pH once instead of a prolonged time period.
Many parents give their children juice starting at a young age because they feel there is a health benefit, or simply because their children want it. The truth is there is no real benefit as juice has less fiber, is less nutritious than whole fruit, and has a higher sugar content. Example: A ½ cup apple juice has no fiber and 13 grams of sugar. A ½ cups of apple slices has 1 ½ grams of fiber and 5 ½ grams of sugar. Too much juice can also lead to diarrhea, tooth decay and in some cases obesity. As with adults, a small cup of 100% juice with a meal is a great way to get in a serving of fruit and veggies, but not sipping on it all day. If your child craves juice, here are a couple suggestions; serve it in a regular cup rather than a juice box that can be carried around, and dilute it with water slowly over time.
So how can you protect your teeth, but still get some nutritional benefits from fruit juice? Start by having the actual fruit when possible; an orange, an apple or cranberries (dried or whole). If you choose to drink juice, as I mentioned above drink a glass with a meal and rinse with water right after, do not brush for a ½ hour as the acidic level in your mouth is higher an can increase risk of erosion. Remember you only have one set of adult teeth so protect them the best you can.