When a 10-year-old's parents took him to a dentist with complaint of toothache, he had no idea that regularly consuming cold drinks could have led to tooth decay.
Unaware of the fact that most cold drinks contain high concentration of simple carbohydrates, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose and other simple sugars, which cause tooth enamel to be dissolved, the boy casually continued to gulp down cold drinks.
"Whenever any food debris is left in the mouth, oral bacteria ferment carbohydrates and produce acid. The acid so formed leads to destruction and decay of tooth. Therefore, cold drinks are likely to increase risk of dental problems," said Dr Gagan Dogra, dentist at Dogra Dental and Implant Clinic.
Dr Dogra said with the onset of summer, there had been a rise in children complaining about tooth problems and visiting the dentists. He said this could be attributed to increasing number of children taking cold drinks in scorching weather.
They suggest that children drink lemon water and Lassi instead of cold drinks, which can also lead to loss of calcium in body.
He said cold drinks are one of the major causes of tooth decay these days. "Besides this, sticky sugary products, such as chocolates, biscuits, mangoes, cakes, toffees, etc., also cause maximum acidic production and hence maximum destruction of teeth. These days children are exposed to lots of sticky confectionary and junk food products, which is a cause of concern," Dr Dogra added.
He further said probably three out of every five children were fond of drinking acidic drinks along with junk food. The parents are advised to provide a balanced diet to their children and avoid junk foods and cold drinks, he said.
Dr Dogra said damage to primary teeth can be harmful as milk teeth helped children chew food properly, develop proper speech and guide permanent teeth into the right place. "Therefore, any kind of infection in milk teeth due to decay could cause defects during formation of permanent teeth. Parents should not ignore them and consult a dentist at the earliest," he added.
"Mangoes are a favourite of children in summer, but they leave debris in mouth and cause tooth decay. So it is advised to eat mangoes only after a meal and brush the teeth thereafter," Dr Dogra said, adding that children should brush their teeth twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride to help avoid decay.
Giving views on bottle-feeding leading to tooth decay in babies, Dr Pardeep Sharma, district dental officer-cum-oral and maxillofacial surgeon, said mothers should avoid giving bottled milk to their children, especially at night, when children sucked on bottles in their cots for extended periods, as when milk collected in the mouth it caused decay.
He said as lactose sugar was present in both breast milk and formulas, when combined with plaque in a baby's mouth, it could erode the enamel of primary teeth, which was harmful.
Dr Sharma also said cold drinks should be avoided as they had caffeine. "Children are gradually becoming addicted to cold drinks, which also lead to loss of calcium. Children should rather drink natural water, which is a good source of calcium," he added.
"Candies and toffees should be given to children before meal and they should brush afterwards," he added.
Dr Rajiv Gupta, a city-based psychiatrist, said children got addicted to cold drinks due to high amount of caffeine in them.
Tips from the doc
Avoid sugary food products and cold drinks.
Drink lemonade or Lassi instead to quench thirst
Ensure children get a balanced diet, rich in vitamins and minerals
Avoid bottle-feeding, especially at night
Brush the teeth with a toothpaste containing fluoride twice a day
Get a dental check-up every six months.