We know that soda is very bad for your teeth. It’s acidic, which can soften tooth enamel, and its high sugar concentration feeds oral bacteria that produce their own localized concentrations of acids that can cause cavities, increasing the need for reconstructive dentistry. But what about fruit juice? It can be acidic, and it contains about as much sugar as soda. Does that mean that it can also lead to tooth decay?
It turns out it doesn’t, at least, that is, according to recent studies on childhood cavities.
There have been many studies attempting to determine whether juice consumption leads to cavities in children. All have shown that 100% juice consumption is an innocent bystander when it comes to cavities. Now the largest study yet has just been published by the American Dental Association, and it seems pretty conclusive.
The study looked at diet surveys and dental records for about 2300 children between the ages of two and five. Juice consumption was given as two different responses, either a simple yes or no, as well as an estimate of total daily consumption.
The results showed that, if anything, there was a slightly lower risk of cavities among children who drank juice. It also showed that this effect remained even among kids who consumed more than the recommended amount of juice–6 ounces a day.
So why doesn’t 100% fruit juice lead to cavities? That’s a little bit tougher question to answer, but researchers put forward three possible explanations. The first is that juice isn’t as acidic and sugary as soda, but we already know that’s a bit of a weak argument. The sugar levels are the same, and although colas are more acidic than any juice but pure lemon juice–what kid is drinking that?!–they overlap in terms of acidity.
Second, it’s likely that parents who give their kids more juice than soda are probably also likely to pay more attention to oral hygiene, offsetting the effects of the juice.
Finally, it’s likely that antibacterial compounds in the juice can provide enough benefit to reduce tooth damage associated with oral bacteria. We’ve already looked at how grape seed extract concentrates the antibacterial properties of red wine. It doesn’t seem that farfetched to imagine that even in weakened form these antibacterial compounds reduce the damage caused by bacteria.
Although it’s not always reasonable to extrapolate the effects of a study on children to an adult population, this study shows that fruit juice can be part of a tooth-healthy diet, which is an important part of keeping your smile beautiful and healthy.
If you need help maintaining your beautiful smile, please call (310) 275-5325 for an appointment with a Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist at Nicolas A. Ravon, DDS, MSD.