No added sugar juice - better for little teeth?

by Anne Myers-Wright RD/APD

Posted on Feb 19, 05:16 AM in . No comments.

Looking after your children’s health is pretty high on the agenda for most parents.

Lately, I’ve seen and spoken to a lot of parents who are on the hunt for healthier snack and drink options. Trying to reduce sugar is the main aim; for overall health and for the protection of those little teeth.

Have you ever bought a “no added sugar” drink, thinking it is a better option for dental health? Well I’m sorry to say these are just as bad as the sugar laden drinks.

In a recent study, researchers looked at the potential cariogenicity, (likelihood to produce caries in teeth), of fruit juices containing sugar vs fruit juices which were “no added sugar”. They did this by looking at the plaque pH changes in the mouth after consuming these drinks.
pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity and in this case, the pH of dental plaque was measured. When pH is less than 5.5, the pH is acid.

When our plaque pH is acidic, guess what happens…. This leads to decay.

The study was really small, with only ten children being examined, but researchers used four juices – orange juice with added sugar, apple juice with added sugar and “no added sugar” varieties of both. Plaque pH was assessed after consumption of each drink.

What they found was that the pH dropped and was acidic in every case, regardless of the sugar content.

The conclusion was that the fruit juices labelled with “no added sugar” or “free from added sugar”, contained substantial quantities of sugar and were equally cariogenic as fruit drinks with added sugar.

So, I’m afraid the answer is no, it’s not better. Maybe rethink that “no added sugar” juice and go for milk or water instead.


J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent. 2014 January-March;32(1):26-32. doi: 10.4103/0970-4388.127049.Effect of commonly consumed sugar containing and sugar free fruit drinks on the hydrogen ion modulation of human dental plaque.
Mahajan N, Kotwal B, Sachdev V, Rewal N, Gupta R, Goyal S.

Tags: Acid, Caries, Decay, Dental Health, Juice, Ph, Sugar

About the author

Anne Myers-Wright

Anne Myers-Wright RD/APD

Anne is a Health Professions Council (HPC) registered dietitian (RD), an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD- Australia), a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), a member of the British Dietetic Association, The Nutrition Society and of The Dietetics Association of Australia.


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