Sugary Diets Blamed for Increase in Tooth Decay among Toddlers

December 4, 2007

With the holidays upon us and sugary snacks, candies and beverages around every corner, dentists at Nationwide Childrens Hospital, one of the countrys largest hospital-based pediatric dental clinics, are warning parents that high-sugar diets are likely to blame for a spike in cavities among young children.

A recent study by the National Center for Health Statistics found that tooth decay in the primary, or baby, teeth of children two to five years of age increased from 24 percent to 28 percent between 1988-1994 and 1999-2004.  Dentists at Nationwide Childrens Hospital say the trend is the worst it has been in decades, with no signs of slowing. 

The same factors that have led to the obesity epidemic are likely contributing to the increase in tooth decay among young children, said Paul Casamassimo, DDS, MS, Chief of Dentistry at Nationwide Childrens Hospital and a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.  High sugar diets, frequent snacking and the substitution of juice and soda for milk are all taking a toll on our childrens teeth.

Casamassimo says that although children will eventually lose their baby teeth, cavities still pose a serious health risk.  Severe tooth decay in these very young children can lead to infections, resulting in pain, permanent damage to the teeth and gums and even death, and the cost of treating severe tooth decay can be expensive and time-consuming for families.

Dentists at Nationwide Childrens Hospital recommend parents limit their childrens exposure to sugar in the diet, and they recommend replacing sugared drinks, including soda and juice, with milk or with tap water, which provides fluoride protection typically not found in bottled water.  Children should brush their teeth at least twice per day and limit snacking between meals.  Finally, dentists say parents should take their children to the dentist as soon as their first teeth begin to appear.

About Nationwide Children's Hospital

Named to the Top 10 Honor Roll on U.S. News & World Report ‘s 2018-19 list of “Best Children’s Hospitals,” Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of America’s largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric health care systems providing wellness, preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents, as well as adult patients with congenital disease. Nationwide Children’s has a staff of more than 13,000 providing state-of-the-art pediatric care during more than 1.4 million patient visits annually. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s physicians train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the Top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded freestanding pediatric research facilities. More information is available at