You’re probably aware of how bad soda pop is for kid’s teeth — up to 10 teaspoons of sugar per glass. You might as well just hand them a sugar jar and a spoon. You may even have heard dentists say that fruit juice can be problematic for teeth too — a surprising amount of natural sugar in each glass. But what can kids drink that’s actually good for their teeth? Simple — milk. It’s great for bones because of its high calcium, and it’s great for teeth for the same reason. Milk can help build strong teeth and it’s less likely to cause cavities.
Milk: Full of the Good Kind of Sugar
Milk is a main source of sugar in our diet — but it’s much different than the sugars found in soda or fruit juice. The sugar in milk is lactose, the least damaging sugar for teeth. And because milk is loaded in calcium, it can actually make your teeth stronger and more resistant to cavities.
In fact, milk can actually help protect your teeth from the damage caused by other foods. Have some cookies and milk, always a classic, and the milk will actually protect your teeth from the sugars in the cookies and chocolate.
Limit Milk at Night
You should still try to avoid drinking milk at night, especially kids. Avoid giving toddlers a bottle to suck on as they go to sleep. This can cause the milk to stick to the teeth longer which can be more damaging than drinking it during the day.
Breast milk is a different story. Let the kid have at it! Breast milk doesn’t tend to linger as much because of the sucking required. The sugars are more natural and better for the baby too!
Why Dairy’s a Better Source of Calcium
Many foods contain calcium, but dairy products like milk and cheese are more easily absorbed. In addition to calcium, milk is also rich in phosphorus and magnesium, and is fortified with Vitamin D. These substances are great for teeth!
How to Get Kids to Drink More Milk
But how do you get your kids to enjoy a healthy diet of milk? Use interesting straws or quirky mugs to make milk drinking fun. Make it a daily part of dinner. Use it as a snack.
It’s also important to remember that dairy doesn’t necessarily have to be milk. Kids can also eat yogurt, cheese, and ghee, which have similar benefits to dental health. The calcium will help their teeth be stronger, and the milk will help protect against cavities. This means fewer dental emergencies, healthier teeth, and better dental health.
Not a Big Milk Drinker? Try These Alternatives Instead
We get it. Not everyone loves milk. If you’re kids aren’t big milk drinkers, it can be pointless and exacerbating to force the issue. Fortunately, there are plenty of dietary alternatives that can provide the same benefits. Yogurts, cheeses and buttermilk have the same benefits. You can also treat yourself to some pudding. Ice cream every once in a while work too. You can treat yourself and still be healthy!
Chocolate milk every once in a while can also be beneficial.
Just because we’re dentists doesn’t mean we want to take all the fun out of life. Sure, go ahead and let your kids enjoy some chocolate milk — but limit the amount. The sugar isn’t the best, but in small quantities it’s not all that bad either. Especially compared to sugary sodas or even sugary fruit juice, chocolate milk has other sugars to help counteract the sugar in the chocolate. Plus, the calcium is good for bones, including teeth. As far as sugary treats go, chocolate milk is better than most since the properties of the milk will counteract the sugar.