Too Much Soda Taking Its Toll on Kids' Teeth
- Drink only small-size sodas, then head to the water fountain. "Whether you swallow the water or spit it out, it takes the sugar off the teeth," Chase says.
- Don't brush your teeth after drinking pop. "The acid in the sugar weakens the enamel," says Chase. "When you subject the enamel to a nylon bristle brush with toothpaste, you're going to wear away the enamel even faster."
- Drink sodas through a straw. "There's less direct contact with teeth," Chase tells WebMD.
Many other popular soda alternatives -- such as fruit drinks and juices -- can be just as bad for kids' dental and overall health, Chase says. "They don't have as much sugar, but some kids drink so much it has the same effect as soda pop.
"I would like to see kids carry water bottles in backpacks instead," he tells WebMD. "School systems should limit access to vending machines to after-school hours so kids can carry a bottle of pop with them on the bus."
But bottled water isn't the sole solution, says Sup-Barnes. "Bottled water has no fluoride -- and that absolutely makes a difference [in cavities]," she tells WebMD.
"Some families cook with bottled water, drink it," she says. "They don't use any water from the tap [which has fluoride in it]. Coupled with excessive soda use, unfluoridated water is really detrimental to teeth."
As for the issue surrounding vending machines in schools, William L. Ball III, president of the National Soft Drink Association, stated in a press release this spring that "science shows us there is no nutritional reason to further restrict the sale of soft drinks or any other beverages in schools."
Regardless, in March Coca-Cola pulled back on its support for "exclusive" soda contracts with schools.