You can improve the oral health of your clients by reducing or eliminating sugary drinks in your facility. Soft drinks, flavoured milks, sports drinks and fruit juices are high in sugar and have a high acidity. You should also watch out for sugar in tea and coffee.

Diet varieties of soft drinks can still be very acidic. Acid dissolves the tooth enamel and can lead to tooth decay.

Do you know how many teaspoons are in one can of regular soft drink? 10 teaspoons. If your client has just one can of drink each day for 10 years, that’s the equivalent of eating 36,000 teaspoons of sugar! All that sugar can cause substantial damage to teeth. It can also increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and 13 types of cancer.

So what’s the alternative? Water, of course.

Why water’s so good:

  • It has no sugar!
  • It is not acidic and doesn’t damage the tooth enamel
  • Most of Victoria’s drinking water contains fluoride which helps to strengthen and repair everyday damage to teeth
  • It washes food out of the mouth and into the stomach
  • It can help with the production of saliva, which is important for keeping teeth and gums healthy
  • It helps to neutralise the acids produced by mouth bacteria, which reduces acid damage to tooth enamel
  • Helps to keep mouth moist and comfortable – this is especially important for those who experience dry mouth because of their medications.
  • Keeps the body hydrated, improving their general health.

Some people don’t enjoy the taste of plain water, so try adding some slices of lime or some fresh mint to give the water some extra flavour.

Plain milk is also a healthy drink choice. Other alternatives include soy or almond milks, or a herbal tea. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a much better choice than fruit juices.

What can you do to put this message into action in your role?

Examples of things you can do:

  • Role model and encourage water as the drink of choice
  • Can you assist someone to ease out of their habit?
    • You might make a plan with them about how they will cut out sugary drinks
    • You could begin by reducing sugary drinks gradually, so that they drink just sometimes during the week.
  • Talk about the damage soft drinks do to teeth and the body
  • Ask a person if they’d be interested in getting a refillable water bottle – they can choose something they like.
  • Put out jugs of water with meals
  • At events, don’t offer or sell soft drinks
  • Talk with your client’s family about how reducing sugary drinks improves their oral health

If you would like more information, take a look at the section on our website:

What to eat for healthy teeth

For more information about the other impacts of sugary drinks, see:

http://www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au/

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