Only 1 in 3 drinks consumed by children are ‘good for their teeth’

New data commissioned by the Natural Hydration Council (NHC) shows that just over 1 in 3 drinks consumed by primary school children aged 5 to 9 are good choices for their dental health[1].

Water accounts for only 26% of 5-9 year olds overall consumption with a modest increase of 4% in the last year compared to 11% among the population as a whole. Plain milk accounts for only 10%.

The new data reinforces last week’s warning from the Royal College of Surgeons that children’s food and drink choices are contributing to high levels of tooth decay in them, which is exemplified by the 24% rise in tooth extractions in under 4s in a decade.

The NHC findings also highlight an increase of 4% in the consumption of diet or low calorie drinks amongst children[2] (to 30% of overall consumption) possibly reflecting parents’ increased awareness of healthier alternatives, though these could be potentially damaging to teeth.

“It’s important that people know that diet drinks can still be damaging to your teeth too”, says Dr. Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation.

“Some of the ingredients in many of them, such as phosphoric acid, citric acid and tartaric acid can be damaging and lead to dental erosion.  The best drinks to look after your oral health are water and milk”.

Dr. Emma Derbyshire, nutritionist and advisor to the Natural Hydration Council, said:

“Public Health England recommends adults and children should swap sugary drinks for healthier alternatives, such as water.  As well as keeping the body functioning well, water is naturally sugar-free and so one of the best choices for our children’s teeth.

“While adults are drinking more water, encouraging children to hydrate more healthily continues to be an enormous challenge. Parents and schools can help children to drink more water by making it readily available throughout the day”.


Published 28th March 2017

[1] Kantar Worldpanel data for drinks consumed by 5-9 year olds in 52 weeks up to w/e 29 Jan 2017 v w/e 31 Jan 2016. Kantar Worldpanel UK covers mainland UK shopper and consumer behavior. A serving refers to the simplest unit of consumption for a specific drink, e.g. a glass of tap water, cup of coffee, bottle of water.

[2] Includes: diet flavoured milk, diet juice drinks (inc. pure juice and squash), diet colas, lemonade and other flavours).