While most people are already aware of the damage sugar can do to our bodies, people don’t often consider the damage it’s doing to our teeth as well. Due to the popularity of soft drinks, which are essentially liquid candy, and common snacks that are high in sugar content, children are getting cavities at unusually high rates.
According to the CDC, almost half of all children between the ages of 2 and 11 have had cavities in their baby teeth, and nearly a quarter of all children between the ages of 6 and 11 have gone on to have cavities in their permanent teeth. To further complicate the issue, dentists have resorted to using general anesthesia when operating on children due to the sheer number of cavities they have in their mouths. At such a young age, it’s difficult to perform the necessary operations without finding some means to pacify them.
Of course, this problem isn’t purely an American one. In March of 2016, a New Zealand boy had to have 11 teeth extractions due to his sugar intake. The boy was only three years old. In the Appalachian region, the tooth decay phenomenon has come to be known as “Mountain Dew Mouth.”
Unfortunately, as much as soda is a problem, it has become so ingrained in many cultures that it’s difficult to overcome. Dentist recommend parents only give their children water and milk, but schools are often just as much of a problem, with fully stocked soda fountains and candy machines ready and waiting to be used.
To further complicate matters, purchasing “sugar-free” drinks doesn’t necessarily mean they’re still a healthy alternative to water or milk for children due to the sheer number of acidic additives companies infuse into the drinks.
For concerned parents seeking advice, dentists recommend the same routine they’ve been preaching for decades: encourage your children to floss and brush their teeth regularly.