Sugar-sweetened beverages should enjoyed alongside good dental hygiene.
Good dental hygiene includes brushing regularly, using fluoride toothpaste, flossing teeth, good mouth saliva, reducing the intake of “sticky” foods between meals, eating a balanced diet and regularly visiting your dentist.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are liquid and remain in the mouth for a relatively short time. This means they do not have the same impact on tooth decay as sugar containing sticky foods, such as carbohydrates, which can attach to teeth and help cause plaque to develop.
Soft drinks will not dissolve your teeth
It is sometimes wrongly claimed that soft drinks and juices can cause teeth to erode and dissolve. This was the result of demonstrations depicting a tooth which had eroded after been immersed in a soft drink for several days.
This erosion was caused by the phosphoric acid in the soft drink. The same thing would have happened if the tooth was immersed in vinegar, orange juice or other foods with an acid content over several days.
In reality, saliva in the human mouth helps neutralise the acid and reduces its effect on the enamel. The minerals in saliva (calcium, phosphorus and fluoride) also help enhance remineralisation of the enamel.
It is also totally unrealistic for a tooth to be in constant contact with beverage over several days.
Provided that good dental hygiene practices are followed, sugar-sweetened beverages will have no significant impact on dental health.
Water and milk should be the first beverage choice for children
We share the community’s concerns about the number of young people who are having their teeth removed due to dental decay and strongly advocate for improved education around the importance of dental hygiene and the need to brush twice a day.
Infants should only ever be given water or milk. Treats, such as soft drinks, should only play a very small role in a child’s diet.
That is why our members have committed to only sell bottled water directly to New Zealand primary and intermediate schools, and to not advertise sugar-sweetened beverages to those under-14.
We also believe that all New Zealand parents and caregivers should have access to the tools and information they need to ensure a healthy diet and hygiene basics for their children, including brushing twice a day.