Soda’s Dark Secret

Soft drink consumption in the United States has increased dramatically across all demographic groups, especially among children and teenagers. We see the evidence of this everyday but now even health authorities such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have begun sounding the alarm about the dangers.

How many school age children drink soft drinks? Estimates range from one in two to more than four in five consuming at least one soft drink a day. At least one in five kids consumes a minimum of four servings a day. Some teenagers drink as many as 12 soft drinks a day. Larger serving sizes make the problem worse. From 6.5 ounces in the 1950s, the typical soft drink had grown to up to 20 ounces by the 1990s.

Children and adolescents aren’t the only people at risk. Long-term consumption of soft drinks has a cumulative effect on tooth enamel. As people live longer, more will be likely to experience problems.

WHAT TO DO
Children, adolescents and adults can all benefit from reducing the number of soft drinks they consume, as well as from available oral care therapies. Here are some steps you can take:

Substitute different drinks: Stock the refrigerator with beverages containing less sugar and acid such as water, milk and 100 percent fruit juice. Drink them yourself and encourage your kids to do the same.

Rinse with water: After consuming a soft drink, flush your mouth with water to remove vestiges of the drink that can prolong exposure of tooth enamel to acids.
Use flouride toothpaste and mouth rinse: Fluoride reduces cavities and strengthens tooth enamel, so brush with a fluoride-containing toothpaste such as Colgate® Total®. Rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash also can help. Your dentist can recommend an over-the-counter mouthwash or prescribe a stronger one depending on the severity of the condition. He or she also can prescribe a higher fluoride toothpaste.

Get professionally applied fluoride treatment: Your dental hygienist can apply fluoride in the form of a foam, gel or rinse.Soft drinks are hard on your teeth. By reducing the amount you drink, practicing good oral hygiene, and seeking help from your dentist and hygienist, you can counteract their effect and enjoy better oral health.

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