Kids love them and so do many adults.  They are a billion dollar industry and come in all kinds of tasty flavors. Oh yeah, and they’re rotting your kid’s teeth.

A new study lays out the consequences that acidic drinks such as sodas, some juices and sports beverages can have on children’s teeth. It’s not good.

"Our research has shown that permanent damage to the tooth enamel will occur within the first 30 seconds of high acidity coming into contact with the teeth. This is an important finding and it suggests that such drinks are best avoided," study corresponding author Dr. Sarbin Ranjitkar, of the Craniofacial Biology Research Group at the University of Adelaide in Australia, said in a university news release.

"If high acidity drinks are consumed, it is not simply a matter of having a child clean their teeth an hour or 30 minutes later and hoping they'll be OK -- the damage is already done," he added.

Fortunately, healthy mouths provide a certain amount of balance and protective mechanisms for teeth and gums. However, teeth can become damaged when the balance shifts to too much acid in the mouth.

High acidity drinks also can combine with other factors to cause major, irreversible damage to youngsters' teeth, according to Ranjitkar.

"Often, children and adolescents grind their teeth at night, and they can have undiagnosed regurgitation or reflux, which brings with it acidity from the stomach. Combined with drinks high in acidity, this creates a triple threat to young people's teeth which can cause long-term damage," he said.

This really isn’t new news, earlier studies have pointed out the link between sodas, acidic juice and kid’s tooth decay.  Youngsters that drink the most sodas also seem to have the most cavities. Many of the earlier studies have focused on the sugar content in these drinks and children’s cavities. This study looks more at the effects of the acid in the beverages on tooth enamel and the long-term consequences. Children are more susceptible to tooth decay because their tooth enamel is not fully developed.

Sodas, juice and sports drinks intake has gone up in the past generation, while the consumption of milk has gone down. I would have a hard time believing it if I hadn’t seen it myself, but some parents are replacing milk with soda in their baby’s bottle. "Dental erosion is an issue of growing concern in developed countries, and it is often only detected clinically after extensive tooth wear has occurred," Ranijitkar said. "Such erosion can lead to a lifetime of compromised dental health that may require complex and extensive rehabilitation -- but it is also preventable with minimal intervention."

Not only is tooth decay painful and long lasting, it’s expensive to repair. Sometimes genetics play a role in why some children seem to have more cavities than others in their age group, but too often it’s simply because parents are allowing their children to drink way too many beverages that are packed with sugar, carbonation and acid.

Everyone can have any of these drinks every once in awhile, there’s no need to forbid them for all time. But, every once in a while is the key. There are also a few tips to help lessen the damage to your child’s teeth.

Do:

  • Drink soda in moderation (no more than one 12 oz can a day)
  • Use a straw to keep the sugar away from your teeth
  • Swish your mouth out with water after drinking to dilute the acid and sugar if brushing your teeth is not possible.
  • Drink plenty of water (8 glasses a day)

DON’T:

  • Sip for extended periods of time
  • Drink soda shortly before bedtime
  • Brush after meals – wait at least an hour after your last drink or meal before brushing
  • Substitute soft drinks, sports drinks or fruit juice for a meal.

The study was recently published in the Journal of Dentistry.

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/dental-and-oral-information-9/misc-dental-problem-news-174/acidic-drinks-can-damage-kids-teeth-permanently-690499.html

http://www.wda.org/your-oral-health/sip-all-day