"Premature loss of tooth enamel and weakening of overall tooth structure are two devastating oral affects of teens' poor diet that can not be reversed later in life," explains Jane Soxman, DDS, author of a new study that appears in the January/February 2003 issue of General Dentistry, the Academy's clinical, peer-reviewed publication.
Adolescence is the time of peak bone growth, a time when more nutrient-packed calories are essential to fuel growing bodies and strengthen teeth and bones, however adolescence is the same time when soda and sugary, high-carbohydrate foods are rapidly displacing healthy foods such as milk, fruits and vegetables.
"The easy access of sugary beverages and foods from home to school and everywhere in between has compromised the health of teens' teeth, and helped fuel the national obesity epidemic," says Julie Barna, DMD, MAGD, spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry.
Dr. Soxman's research shows that drinking carbonated beverages seems to be one of the most significant causes of increased cavities and obesity for today's teens.
Fifteen percent of American adolescents ages 6-19 are overweight. The number is expected to increase as the 10 percent of preschool age children ages 2-5 that are overweight are becoming addicted to caffeine and sugar making unhealthy habits such as drinking soda throughout the day harder to stop.
The phosphoric, citric, tartaric and/or carbonic acid in soda is now linked to breaking down the tooth enamel around dental sealants and restorations further compromising teens' teeth and leading to more extensive dental treatment to prevent total tooth loss.