A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests sugar-sweetened beverages, particularly soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks, should be required to have tooth decay warning labels.
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Data revealed the number of decayed, missing and filled deciduous (or baby) teeth was 46% higher among children who consumed three or more sugar-sweetened drinks per day, compared with children who did not consume sugar-sweetened drinks.
How many kids consume that much? According to this study, 13% (ages 5 to 16).
Though “sugar” has been the headline on this story, it’s not the only factor in the harm these drinks can do over time.
“Consistent evidence has shown that the high acidity of many sweetened drinks, particularly soft drinks and sports drinks, can be a factor in dental erosion, as well as the sugar itself contributing to tooth decay,” said lead study author Jason Armfield, Ph.D., from the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health at the university’s school of dentistry. “If health authorities decide that warnings are needed for sweet drinks, the risk to dental health should be included. This action, in addition to increasing the access to fluoridated water, would benefit children’s teeth greatly.”
Yes, the study also looked at fluoridation and concluded that “greater exposure to fluoridated water significantly reduced the association between children’s [sugar-sweetened beverage] consumption and dental caries.” But as the paper we looked at earlier this week shows, it’s no silver bullet.
Nor does any benefit justify dosing everyone, at risk or not, willing or not.