Added Sugar and Dental Caries in Children: A Scientific Update and Future Steps

Dent Clin North Am. 2019 Jan;63(1):17-33. doi: 10.1016/j.cden.2018.08.003. Epub 2018 Oct 29.


Excess added sugars, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, is a leading cause of tooth decay in US children. Although added sugar intake is rooted in behavioral and social factors, few evidence-based, theory-driven socio-behavioral strategies are currently available to address added sugar intake. Dental health professionals are in a position to help identify and address problematic sugar-related behaviors in pediatric patients and advocate for broader upstream approaches, including taxes, warning labels, and policy changes, that can help reduce added sugar intake, prevent tooth decay, and improve health outcomes in vulnerable child populations.

Keywords: Added sugars; Behavioral determinants of health; Children; Dental caries; Evidence-based dentistry; Pediatric dentistry; Social determinants of health; Sugar-sweetened beverages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Beverages / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dental Caries / chemically induced*
  • Dental Caries / epidemiology
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Dentists
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects
  • Evidence-Based Dentistry*
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Oral Health
  • Social Determinants of Health*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sugars / adverse effects*
  • Sweetening Agents
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Sugars
  • Sweetening Agents