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Rethink Your Drink, Choose Water

Let's Not Sugar-coat It!

Cola canSugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are beverages with added sugar. These drinks include soda pop, juice/fruit drinks, sweetened teas/coffees, flavored waters, chocolate milk, and sports and energy drinks. Consumption of SSBs can lead to tooth decay and other health issues in both children and adults. In fact, drinking soda pop nearly doubles the risk of cavities in children.1

Glass of waterFurther, the sugar in SSBs feeds the bacteria that produces acid in your mouth, which attacks and dissolves tooth enamel. It’s also important to know that despite having more nutrients and containing only natural (not added) sugar, 100 percent fruit juice typically contains as much sugar and calories as soda pop. So, when you or your children are thirsty, reach for a cold glass of water instead of a sugar-sweetened beverage!

How Much Added Sugar is Too Much?

Sugar packetsHere are the recommended daily limits:4
  • Newborns and Infants: 0 tsp. (0g)
  • Toddlers and Preschoolers: 4 tsp. (16g)
  • Children Ages 4–8: 3 tsp. (12g)
  • Pre-teens and Teenagers: 5–8 tsp. (20-32g)
  • Adult Women: 6 tsp. (24g)
  • Adult Men: 9 tsp. (36g)

Did You Know?

  • Four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon.
  • A typical 20-ounce soda pop or juice/fruit drink contains 15–18 teaspoons of sugar—as much as in three candy bars!
  • Drinking one 12-ounce soda pop each day increases a child’s chances of becoming obese by 60 percent.2
  • People who drink one or two cans of soda pop a day have a 26 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.3

Sip Tips

  • Reduce the number and portion size of SSBs—drink only once in a while, 8 ounces or less.
  • Freeze 100 percent fruit juice in an ice cube tray, and then add one frozen cube to a glass of water.
  • Add a splash of 100 percent fruit juice to plain water.
  • Add zest to your water with fresh fruit slices such as lemon or lime.
  • Stock the fridge with a jug of cold water and bottled water for those on the go.
  • Choose water or milk (1% or nonfat for those older than 2).
  • Don’t let babies and toddlers carry around sippy cups or bottles containing SSBs (and no bottles in bed).
  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss once a day.
Please note: Numbers are approximate due to rounding. All of these numbers are guidelines and based on averages and not tailored to individual health needs. Please contact your physician for guidance about how consumption of added sugar may affect you, particularly if you or a family member have any pre-existing health conditions.

Help your kids get excited about taking care of their teeth with the fun games and activities in Marshall Molar’s Kid Corner! Many topics also are available as downloadable flyers in our oral health flyers section.

1 Sohn W, Burt BA Sowers MR. Carbonated soft drinks and dental caries in the primary dentition. J Dent Res. March 2006;85[3]:262–266.

2 Ludwig DS, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. Lancet. 2001;357:505–8.

3 Malik VS, Popkin BM, Gray GA, Despres JP, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages and rick of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 2010;33(11):2477–2483.

4 Added Sugar Fact Sheet, Yale Rudd Center,