Stop the Pop

The facts about the harmful effects sugary beverages have on teeth.


Soft drinks, otherwise known as soda or pop, have emerged as one of the most significant dietary sources of tooth decay. Did you know that some soft drinks contain as much as 11 teaspoons of sugar per 12 oz. serving? Most soft drinks also contain phosphoric and citric acids that weaken tooth enamel, contributing to the formation of cavities. In extreme cases, softer enamel combined with improper brushing, grinding of the teeth or other conditions can lead to tooth loss. Each time a sugary beverage or snack is consumed, acid attacks the teeth for at least twenty minutes. Each bite or sip brings on another acid attack.
Excessive consumption of soft drinks affects more than your oral health. Studies also have linked consumption of too many soft drinks with other medical problems, such as osteoporosis, kidney stones and obesity. Research also demonstrates that proper nutrition is linked to enhanced academic performance.

Get the Facts

The statistics are alarming!
  • In 2000, Americans drank more than 53 gallons of soft drinks per person. This amount surpassed all other beverages, including milk and water.
  • One out of every four beverages consumed in the United States today is a soft drink.
  • Larger serving sizes have made the problem worse. The average serving size has increased from 6.5 ozs. in the 1950s to up to 20 ozs. today. Even 64. oz. servings are not uncommon!
  • Each day, soda consumption alone provides the average teenage boy about 15 teaspoons of refined sugars, the average girl about 10 teaspoons. These amounts roughly equal the recommended daily limits for teens’ sugar consumption from all foods.
  • It’s not just about what you’re putting into your body, but also what you’re leaving out. Heavy soft drink consumption is associated with lower intake of numerous important vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Less than 50 percent of adolescent girls consume enough calcium daily, which can lead to early development of osteoporosis. Girls who drink carbonated beverages are five times more likely to have bone fractures than those who don’t.
  • Carbonated soft drinks are the single biggest source of calories in the American diet, providing about seven percent of calories. Teenagers get 13 percent of their calories from carbonated and noncarbonated soft drinks.

Helpful Tips

PDA believes that school administrators, educators, parents and dentists all play a key role in teaching children about proper nutrition, including how to choose healthy foods and beverages. Teach your students how sugary beverages can cause tooth decay and what can be done to prevent it. For optimal oral and overall health, PDA recommends the following:
  • Make Smart Choices
    • Choose beverages that hydrate and contribute to good nutrition and oral health, such as water or milk. Drinking eight to 12 glasses of water daily is important, and consuming optimally fluoridated water helps to prevent tooth decay.
    • The recommendation of how much milk a person should drink daily is based on age. Find out how many glasses of milk you should be drinking.
    • If you're a parent, stock the refrigerator with beverages containing less sugar, drink them yourself and encourage your kids to do the same. Even diet soda or "sugar-free" drinks almost always contain harmful acids.
  • Prevention & Care
    • After consuming a soft drink, rinse your mouth out with water.
    • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Brushing after breakfast and before bedtime is recommended.
    • Use a fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse, and ask your dentist to apply a fluoride treatment at your next visit. Fluoride helps to reduce cavities and strengthens tooth enamel.

Remember! Soft drinks and sugary beverages 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 effects and enjoy better oral and overall health.

"Stop the Pop" is an education initiative originally developed by the Missouri Dental Association.
Several of the above statistics were provided by the 
Missouri Dental Association and the Minnesota Dental Association.

Additional Resources

Stop the Pop - Missouri Dental Association
This program provides a wealth of information online, as well as a brochure and PowerPoint presentation.

Sip All Day, Get Decay® - copyright of Minnesota Dental Association
This campaign is nationally recognized as a critical educational tool for dental offices and public health agencies.

Lab Lessons - Minnesota Dental Association
Conduct a variety of hands-on experiments to help students learn about plaque, acidity and the effect sugar has on teeth.

Soft Drinks: Sugar Content - Minnesota Dental Association
Do you know how much sugar is in your favorite soft drink? This chart shows the sugar content in many popular drinks, broken down by serving size.

Kids' Corner
Encourage your students to visit PDA's online Kids' Corner, where they'll learn about brushing, flossing, nutrition and more, as well as enjoy interactive games and activities.

Patient Resource Center
Review frequently asked questions, resources, articles and videos about common oral health topics.

August 2009 Oral Health Update: PDA Supports Healthy Beverages and Snacks in Schools (PDF file)
This edition of the Oral Health Update focuses on educating policymakers and the public about excessive consumption of carbonated and sugary beverages, and their effect on oral and overall health.