While we appreciate efforts to improve oral health all across America, and we love our dentists, singling out any one food or beverage as the cause of dental caries is misleading to consumers and could have negative consequences. A recent example of this is an ad campaign sponsored by the Minnesota and Wisconsin Dental Associations. These groups are advocating – not for good oral hygiene - but for curbing consumption of soft drinks.

While some say drinking beverages is a unique factor in causing tooth decay, the facts state otherwise. Science tells us that individual susceptibility to both dental cavities and tooth erosion varies depending on a person’s behavior, lifestyle, diet and genetic make-up. In fact, you can't single out any one food or beverage as the cause of dental caries or erosion considering the many factors that determine individual dental health. So, what are those factors? They include the types of food consumed, the length of time foods stay in the mouth and the level of oral hygiene and access to professional dental care. So, for example, sticky foods - like raisins - that tend to stay in the mouth longer and/or cling to teeth can be a significant source of dental cavities. In contrast, liquids, such as soft drinks or sweetened beverages, clear the mouth quickly. After all, it doesn't take too long to “sip & savor” your favorite beverage.

The good news is that general dental health has improved due to many factors, including fluoridated water and toothpaste, greater access to professional dental care, and better oral hygiene, to name a few. Rather than look to one product as a scapegoat, we should all do our part to enhance oral health by brushing, flossing and making regular visits to the dentist.

For more information on beverages and good oral health, visit http://www.ameribev.org/nutrition--science/oral-health/.