Dentists’ warning on acidic soft drinks including smoothies and juices
Children’s teeth are rotting by health conscious parents misguidedly giving them too many acidic fruit smoothies and juice drinks- senior dentists have warned.The concerns were raised as official figures disclosed that dental problems have become the third most common reason for children to be admitted to hospital.
The investigation reveals that the acid levels of popular juice drinks consumed by millions of households – including one found to be more acidic than vinegar.
Dr Kathy Harley, dean of the dental faculty at the Royal College of Surgeons, said many parents encouraged their children to drink smoothies and juices every day, unaware that the combination of high acid levels and sugar content can destroy young teeth.
Instead of giving children the apparently healthy snack of fruit juice and a box of raisins, it would be better for their teeth if they were given a glass of water and a handful of chocolate buttons, she said.
Manufacturers are required to publish information about the nutritional content of drinks on the label – but not their levels of acid, which can erode the surface of teeth, making decay more likely.
Dr Harley said 50 per cent of five year olds now have signs of damage to their tooth enamel caused by excess acid in their diet.
She said that while health conscious parents had the best of intentions in trying to follow the Government’s “five a day” advice for feeding their children fruit and vegetables, in fact the combination of acid and sugar in juice drinks meant they should be restricted to a “once a week treat”.
Tooth enamel begins to be destroyed when acid levels in the mouth drop below 5.5 on the pH scale, which has 7 as neutral and 1 as strong acid.
While water has a pH of 7, and milk is just below at 6.8, our investigation found that a soft drink called This Water with lemons and limes, which describes itself as a “juice drink blended with pure squeezed juices and pure spring water”, had a level of 2.7 – making it more acidic than cider vinegar, which had a level of 2.9.
This Water also contains 9.5 teaspoons of sugar in a 420ml (14.7 fl oz) bottle. In 2008, the company, which is part of Innocent Drinks founder Richard Reed’s empire, had an advertisement campaign banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for failing to inform consumers about the sugar content of its juice drinks.
The products were advertised with the strapline: “Simple, natural, refreshment” in posters which stated that the drink was made from water and fruit but made no mention of added sugar.
The other fruit drinks tested, including Tropicana orange juice, Copella apple juice, Innocent smoothies, Capri Sun orange drink and Robinsons Fruit Shoot apple and blackcurrant low sugar drink all had acid levels ranging between 3.3 and 3.8.
The most acidic beverage tested was Coca Cola, with a pH level of 2.5 and 12.5 teaspoons of sugar in a 500ml (17.5 fluid ounces) bottle.
Dentists said that rather than consuming fruit or fruit juices as a snack, they were better consumed at meal times or accompanied with something containing calcium, such as cheese, which neutralises acid.
Children should be encouraged to drink water afterwards to wash away some of the acid, but not to brush their teeth until at least an hour afterwards, as teeth are weakened by exposure to acid, they said. Saliva also helps to restore the balance.
Tags: dentists, Health Professionals, NHS Dentistry, NHS waste, preventable crisis, private dentists