Smoothies: Not So Smooth Sailing for Teeth
Fruit smoothies have been touted by some companies as an easy and tasty way to get your child to eat the two to four daily servings of fruit recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its food pyramid. But fruit smoothies may not be all their proponents claim. And a new study suggests that fruit smoothies may be hazardous to the teeth.
A typical fruit smoothie is made of fresh or frozen fruit pureed with fruit juice into a cold, thick beverage. Some smoothies add milk, yogurt or another dairy product to improve their consistency and taste. Although some people make their own smoothies at home, many commercially made smoothies are available. These often contain added sugar and other ingredients.
An investigation published in February 2013 by the British Dental Journal tested a range of fruit smoothies for their potential impact on teeth. The authors used four commercial all-fruit smoothies that included such fruits as strawberries, bananas, kiwis, apples, pomegranates, blueberries and acai, along with one commercial smoothie that was 73% yogurt and a homemade smoothie made of strawberries, bananas and a blend of apple, orange, grape and lime juice. They analyzed the chemical makeup of each drink and tested its effect on previously extracted teeth.
Food and drink with too much acid have the potential to harm tooth enamel. The results of this study showed that each of the all-fruit smoothies had acid levels that could cause damage to teeth. Only the smoothie that was nearly three-quarters yogurt did not have troublesome acidity levels. Smoothies that included apples, kiwi or lime altered the surface hardness of the teeth.
Although fruits are naturally sweet, many commercially available smoothies also have a significant amount of sugar added. One “super-sized” smoothie offered by a popular national chain has been found to include more than 169 grams of sugar. Besides the danger that consuming all that extra sugar poses to your child’s teeth, a 12-ounce smoothie may exceed 500 calories. An extra 500 calories daily would equal a weight gain of one pound per week.
None of this means that you should not give your child a fruit smoothie. Smoothies can be a good source of vitamin C and other nutrients. And smoothies made with yogurt or milk provide calcium while having less harmful acid than pure fruit smoothies. But if you are not making the smoothies yourself, read the label carefully to know exactly what your child is drinking.
If you have further questions regarding smoothies or other potentially harmful foods for your teeth, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.