When you’re thirsty, what do you reach for? If you’re like many Americans, it’s probably a can or bottle of pop. Unfortunately, this increase in soda pop consumption is putting you and your children at greater risk for tooth decay. In addition to dental problems, research shows that too much pop can lead to medical problems like obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease, and kidney stones.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2011-2014, 6 in 10 youth (63%) and 5 in 10 adults (49%) drank a sugar-sweetened beverage daily. Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease. It is five times more common than asthma. Over 50 percent of children have cavities in their primary teeth by the first grade. It is estimated that 51 million school hours are missed each year by children because of oral health problems. It is important to note that diets high in added sugar, not just from beverages can also contribute to poor overall health. Americans, aged 6 years and older, consumed about 14% of total daily calories from added sugars in 2003-2010 according to a 2016 CDC report. Obesity among children has more than doubled in kids and quadrupled in adolescents over the last three decades.
Research tells us the following:
Calcium deficiency is a serious nutritional problem in this country. Many people are opting for soft drinks and other beverages that don’t have the vitamins and minerals that milk provides to help build strong bones.
As kids grow older, the nutrient content of their diets often decline. By following the eating patterns of children from third to eighth grade, researchers from the University of Minnesota found kids’ milk consumption dropped from 2.5 times a day in third grade to less than 1.9 times a day in eighth grade. At the same time, soft drink consumption more than tripled between the two grades, most often replacing milk and fruit juice.
Keeping healthy teeth may be as easy as getting three servings of milk or foods from the milk group. Researchers found females with low calcium intakes had a 54 percent greater risk for gum disease, which is a major cause of tooth loss, compared to those individuals with high calcium intakes.
Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Tooth Decay
- Avoid sipping pop throughout the day. Rather, drink them in a short time with food or as part of a meal.
- Drink pop in moderation. Even diet drinks contain acid that will attack the teeth and result in decay.
- If you can’t brush, rinse your mouth with water after drinking a pop.
- Never drink pop or juice before bedtime because the liquid pools in the mouth and coats your teeth with sugar and acid that can result in decay.
- Drink water instead of pop since it has no sugar, no acid and no calories.
- Brush and floss regularly to remove the plaque that can lead to tooth decay.