SAN ANTONIO — Sugar is being called “the new tobacco.” Its many forms have been linked to the increasing rates of diabetes, heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and other chronic diseases in the U.S.
Army dentists have been fighting on the front lines against sugar for decades. Despite their best efforts, tooth decay continues to be the main cause of dental disease and non-battle injuries among deployed Soldiers.
From 2000 to 2008, the oral health of DOD recruits worsened. The 2008 Tri-Service Oral Health Survey revealed that Army recruits have higher numbers of untreated cavities compared to other DOD recruits. A study at the largest Army installation showed that about one third of Soldiers develop new treatment needs every year.
Army Soldiers have better access to education about oral hygiene and proper nutrition, fluoridated water, fluoride toothpaste, and dental care than many Americans. But Army dentists report that these defenses can’t compensate for Soldiers’ frequent snack-ing habits and the popularity of soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened coffee, sweet tea, and coffee boutique drinks (frappacinos, etc).
Army dentists are all too familiar with the rampant decay that results when a Soldier sips on sugary drinks throughout the day. Drinks that contain high amounts of sugar, caffeine and citrus flavors often cause extensive tooth decay, likely due to the combina-tion of high sugar content and organic acids.
Young Soldiers often don’t pay attention to the sugar, calories, or caffeine in their drinks. One large iced coffee can have 11 teaspoons of sugar. But even if they check the label, looks can be deceiving. The amount of sugar, caffeine, and carbohydrates per serving listed on a single can of an energy drink may not seem that bad, but the can actually contains two servings so you must multiply by two.
The most popular Energy drink purchased at AAFES stores, 16 oz Monster, has 13 teaspoons, and the most popular soda, 20 oz Mountain Dew, has over 18 teaspoons of sugar… Read full article
By Col. Georgia Rogers, DMD, MPH / Consultant to the Surgeon General for Dental Public Health