Crystal Light at bedtime?
October 8, 2007 11:01 PM   Subscribe

Will Crystal Light still rot my 2 year old's teeth if I give it to him at bedtime, even though it's sugar free?
posted by Brocktoon to Health & Fitness (39 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Crystal Light is full of artificial flavors, colors, and chemical sweeteners. It isn't a good thing to give to a 2 year old, "sugar free" or not.

I suggest water, warm milk, or a mild herbal tea.
posted by streetdreams at 11:12 PM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

Milk has quite a lot of sugar (lactose) in it. Crystal Light looks like it has citric and malic acids in it, which are no friends of tooth enamel. What's the ingredient list?
posted by trevyn at 11:17 PM on October 8, 2007

It's pretty acidic stuff, especially the lemonade flavors. Definitely brush teeth after drinking it.

I drink it all day, adding a pinch to each of my 8 glasses of daily water because I can't choke down plain water otherwise and it definitely scours my mouth even at low concentrations.
posted by jamaro at 11:22 PM on October 8, 2007

anything sugar free is probably worse than sugar to give to your kid.
posted by outsider at 11:24 PM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also, depending on the flavor (I drink copious amounts of Raspberry Ice, since it's the least "diety" drink I've ever found), the colorant can stain to an ungodly fashion. I've never seen a substance take up near-permanent coloring residence on a surface so quickly and require so much force to scrub out. I wonder if they've considered dyeing clothing with it. I don't know what they use but it scares me.
posted by disillusioned at 11:32 PM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

The recommended amounts of artificial sweetener are for adults. I think they recommend against them for children as young as yours. Are you laying him down with the bottle or are you giving it before he heads off to bed? Is he being fussy? What's the story, morning glory?
posted by Foam Pants at 12:20 AM on October 9, 2007

outsider, ive been working by this principle as well. ive found that "reduced sugar" or "sugar free" versions of products are causing me to react (mostly by headaches). ive switched everything to the normal version of most products - and the kids behaviour has improved a lot. may not be direct cause and affect, but the correlation is there for me.
posted by dnc at 12:52 AM on October 9, 2007

Ignore the snark's, the fact is that yes, it will have almost the same impact on the teeth as sugar.
My only datapoint is an othodontist friend who observed that a certain ehtnic group here in the UK, routinely gave their children Coke from a very early age. It rotted their teeth. He started asking the parents and many said they gave sugar-free to avoid tooth decay. He saw no appreciable difference in the rot between the two groups, yet they had sometimes 10 times the damage compared to children who did not have these drinks.
Some of the pictures were absolutely harrowing. I'm sure there has been research into this if we have any dental mefites?
posted by Wilder at 4:00 AM on October 9, 2007

sorry, snark's comments, I meant
posted by Wilder at 4:00 AM on October 9, 2007

He started asking the parents and many said they gave sugar-free to avoid tooth decay. He saw no appreciable difference in the rot between the two groups, yet they had sometimes 10 times the damage compared to children who did not have these drinks.

My mom has been drinking a Diet Coke a day for as long as I can remember, and the enamel has worn down so that the fronts of her teeth are no longer smooth but instead have ridges.
posted by puffin at 4:12 AM on October 9, 2007

Please don't give crap to children, regardless of the effect on their teeth or, specifically, the sugar content.

Puffin's comment above relates to Diet Coke, not Crystal Light, refers to puffin's mother's teeth, not a baby's teeth, gives no information about puffin's mother's other dietary habits or her dentist's opinion on the worn tooth enamel, and ignores all other possible reasons for tooth enamel to wear away.
posted by JimN2TAW at 4:28 AM on October 9, 2007

My only datapoint is an othodontist friend who observed that a certain ehtnic group here in the UK, routinely gave their children Coke from a very early age.

The only thing it says is that Coke may be a problem, and says nothing about artificial sweetener or sugar.
posted by smackfu at 5:38 AM on October 9, 2007

Regardless, I'm pretty sure (although not 100%) that it's the acid in the drinks that causes decay. Crystal light is very acidic. It may not have the same acids as Coke/Diet Coke, but the acids present can still do damage.

I have the same aversion to water that Jamaro seems to have, and I only wish that I had been given more water as a small child so I could have developed a taste for it.

I would stick with acid-neutral drinks for after brushing.
posted by nursegracer at 6:07 AM on October 9, 2007

Response by poster: Fussy is hardly the word. He's the youngest of three and an absolute hellion. Giving him the Crystal Light is our desperate bribe to get him to stay in bed, where he routinely refuses to try and sleep before midnight. Kinda hard to brush his teeth again after he's fallen asleep, so I'm trying to find something other than water (which he refuses) that will placate him and not rot his teeth at the same time. I'm probably talking about some wonder liquid, yet to be invented, that will make someone somewhere very rich some day.

What are some acid-neutral drinks, and why would the sugary drinks be worse than the sugar-free?
posted by Brocktoon at 6:34 AM on October 9, 2007

Sounds like the sugar content or otherwise is the least of your the long run it might be worth changing the bed time routine to something that doesn't involve bribing him to stay in bed...cause when he's 5 or 8 or 10 he'll be demanding different bribes

Also it may well be the artificial flavours and colours which cause him to be so hyper in the evening...
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:44 AM on October 9, 2007

Crystal Light is sweetened with aspartame. Aspartame is not something you want to be feeding small children; there is significant evidence that it is a carcinogen or a component of a suite of food additives that together act as a carcinogen. It is also implicated in psychiatric disorders. Aspartame was allowed to come to market despite inadequate safety testing during the Reagan administration, largely due to lobbying by Donald Rumsfeld, who at the time was the CEO of the company that developed it.

Links above come from ninety seconds of Google searching and could certainly be improved upon (as you might imagine, a lot of the discussion of aspartame dangers comes across as paranoid conspiracy rants). Nevertheless, iit is not hard at all to conclude that this is not a safe thing to be feeding a two-year-old.
posted by gum at 6:46 AM on October 9, 2007 [4 favorites]

regarding ...why would the sugary drinks be worse than the sugar-free? :: Sugar feeds the bacteria that live on your teeth, and the waste products of the bacteria are acidic, and that acid damages the enamel of your teeth. (When dentists talk about plaque, it refers to a thin sticky film of bacteria and sugar that can coat your teeth.)

I feel for you on the frustrating bedtime situation, but honestly, I would just try and steel yourself for a week or two of miserable nights, and lay down some bedtime rules. It might make things easier if you could add something new to the bedtime ritual - like a new nightlight or spiderman lamp or something, plus a couple new bedtime books. And allow only water in bed.
posted by chr1sb0y at 6:48 AM on October 9, 2007

As for what to give him instead, how about water flavored with a bit of cucumber or mint? I think the trick with whatever you give him is to call it "Monster Repellent" or "Superhero Vitamins" or something else that a 2-year-old would want to drink.
posted by kitty teeth at 7:05 AM on October 9, 2007

Assuming you meant that the other way round :) I'm pretty sure the stuff is called Aspartame (artificial sweetner). It is not good for you...!!

Actually I just had a thought. I don't know about acidity but there's a plant called Stevia. (I'm growing some but have yet to try it) It is a natural sweetner and apparently has some kind of fruity type taste.

Mmm I was just reading, they don't use Aspartame anymore it's now Sucralose. Yeah that's no good for you either...!! I'd find another method if I were you? That stuff appears pretty nasty.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 7:13 AM on October 9, 2007

I hate to go all Blue on the green, but I really enjoy a packet of True Lemon in my water bottle. Just different enough from water to keep me interested.

Granted, its number one ingredient is Citric Acid, but you wouldn't want to give him a whole packet anyway.
posted by britain at 7:34 AM on October 9, 2007

I gave my kids apple juice and their teeth are fine. I'd worry more about the aspartame than the tooth damage in any case - that stuff is really, really nasty. What about some of the barely flavored waters - fruit water, and the like? I think if I were you I'd do a trip to the health food store and see if I could find something all natural that would still work. As far as bribery, relax, it's a time honored parenting tool and it won't work forever anyway.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:59 AM on October 9, 2007

I'm probably talking about some wonder liquid, yet to be invented, that will make someone somewhere very rich some day.

Maybe there's a herbal tea he'd enjoy? Kids in Japan and Korea drink barley tea. The trick might be to treat the beverage as though it's soda/juice (limit it, enjoy it yourself) in order to make him want it.
posted by xo at 8:07 AM on October 9, 2007

How about giving him fizzy mineral water, like Perrier or something?
posted by amtho at 8:22 AM on October 9, 2007

I'm sure you've consulted your pediatrician about this ad nauseum, but I would strongly suggest prioritizing the sleep issue itself over what bribe you can offer to mitigate the sleep issue.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and The No-Cry Sleep Solution may be useful, although they're both aimed a little more at babies. I'd also try to rule out anything medical that might be causing difficulty at bedtime (chronic ear infections made it impossible for my younger sister to go down easy as a toddler, for example).

I completely and totally empathize with you and can fully appreciate where you're coming from on this, but for your sake in the longterm and for your son's sake, you really have to approach his behavior holistically and solve it at the root.

Or, to put it a little less long-windedly: It's sticker chart time.
posted by padraigin at 8:39 AM on October 9, 2007

You could try pedialyte, either the drink or the freezer pops. They don't have aspartame anymore and are probably healthier than crystal lite. I babysat for kids who drank it instead of juice because they liked the flavor. That sample of one family seems fine as far as effects go.
posted by rmless at 8:48 AM on October 9, 2007

Response by poster: Regarding the parenting advice; I'm old hat. This is my third son, and his personality is such that he demands to be completely independent all the time. He is not overly spoiled. I refuse to do anything at bedtime that makes him suffer, self-inflicted or not. Thank you, but I'm not looking for parenting advice, I'm looking for something that he will like to drink that won't destroy his teeth.

We used to give them apple juice, but I worried about the high sugar content and diabetes and cut them off, not to mention that I'm certain it caused my 5 year old's dental problems, which cost me thousands to fix.

Does anyone know anything more about these "flavored waters" that mygothlaundry mentioned?
posted by Brocktoon at 8:55 AM on October 9, 2007

I don't imagine there's any more tooth-rotting stuff in Crystal Light than in the apple juice (which full of sugars and acids) I got as a toddler. It may have laid the foundation for the eventual seven cavities I got a few years later, but I like to think my chronic Pixie Stix consumption was more directly responsible.
posted by Reggie Digest at 9:11 AM on October 9, 2007

Sorry, I really should have previewed that.
posted by Reggie Digest at 9:13 AM on October 9, 2007

You might check the Crystal Light ingredient list to make sure it doesn't contain any of the artificial colors and ingredients that have been linked to hyperactivity in kids.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:31 AM on October 9, 2007

True Lemon might be an option. It's basically dehydrated lemon, with no sweetener (artificial or otherwise) added. I've also seen a drink powder by Luna at my local health food store. It's "made for women" and all that, but it has no artificial sweeteners, which is a plus.
posted by stefanie at 9:47 AM on October 9, 2007

Brocktoon - how about adding just a drop of essential oil to water? Lemon and mint both taste really good in water - and there are no artificial ingredients or sugars to worry about. This is how I got past my aversion to plain water (though admittedly, as an adult).
posted by widdershins at 10:02 AM on October 9, 2007

I think the "flavored waters" people have been referring to are things like Propel. They should be in the same supermarket aisle as the Gatorade. A cheaper way to get the same thing would be to just dilute significantly a regular sports drink. Perhaps to avoid having your son notice dilute it a little bit more every night until you're practically giving him water.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 10:12 AM on October 9, 2007

I add SweetLeaf Stevia drops to water, tea, etc.; they comes in a decent variety of flavors and you could probably find them at your local health food store.
posted by eiramazile at 10:51 AM on October 9, 2007

What about something like Hint water?
posted by marylynn at 12:43 PM on October 9, 2007

Not trying to be an ass, I asked my dentist that very question (why diet drinks rot teeth) and he said it was the citric acid. ANYTHING with citric acid rots teeth, apparently. I just googled citric acid and found plenty of pages talking about how you can use it as a cleaner, so yeah, that's the problem.

I weaned myself off kool-aid (had lots of bladder infections as a kid) by drinking flavored sparkling water like LaCroix, which has nothing in it but water and some natural flavoring. I believe Ozarka makes a still version with multiple flavors without the Splenda.

Propel isn't water, it's freaking Crystal Light with a different name. I can't stand the stuff. It's hella gross.

is an interesting article about children and flavored water and cavities...
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:45 PM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

You could try making the Crystal Light more and more dilute each night.
posted by trevyn at 3:01 PM on October 9, 2007

how about unsweetened mint, rosehip, or elderflower tea?
posted by twistofrhyme at 4:46 PM on October 9, 2007

oh, and hint water is delicious. great suggestion, marylynn. somehow, it actually tastes sweet.

or what about water that sat in the fridge all day with a few slices of cucumber, watermelon, or a sprig of fresh mint in it? it would have a subtle flavour but very low (if any) sugar.

weak warm chicken or vegetable broth?

maybe a half-shot of scotch? : )
posted by twistofrhyme at 4:49 PM on October 9, 2007

So after thinking about your question some more (coupled with my own frustration with myself over finding still water unpalatable), I tried mixing up a few drinks. The winner was *any* hint of flavoring (I tried mint leaves, lavender, a quick dunk of various Celestial Seasoning herb tea bags) plus simply adding a drop of food coloring to the water. Even though I knew it was just coloring, not flavor, my tastebuds said "Mmm, yummy...not plain water."

I'll bet you could pitch tinted water to your son, too. I used those tear-drop-shaped food colorings found in the baking section but I'm sure there's better kinds out there.
posted by jamaro at 7:58 PM on October 9, 2007

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