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Dental coalition urges Surgeon General's report

Seeks evaluation of oral effect of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption

Washington—Sixteen dental organizations asked the administration July 23 to commission a U.S. Surgeon General's report on relationships between specific dietary practices and oral diseases.

"We strongly urge you to commission a report that, at a minimum, evaluates scientific literature on the extent to which sugar-sweetened beverage consumption affects oral health," said the coalition letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the administration's chief health officer.

"We also ask that you put forward a science-based definition of 'soft drinks' and/or 'soda pop'. The definition should account for the natural sugar(s), added sugar(s), carbonation and acid(s) in these beverages. It should also distinguish 'soft drinks' from beverages many consider healthy despite their sugar and acid content (e.g. fruit juices, milk, etc.)," the coalition said.

"From a dental perspective, a steady diet of sugary foods and drinks, including juice and sports drinks, can damage teeth. A report from the Surgeon General will shine a light on this issue and, hopefully, generate fact-based policies around which the oral health community can coalesce."

The letter called for an update of Surgeons General reports on Nutrition and Health and Oral Health in America. The current Surgeon General, Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., is charged with articulating "scientifically based health policy analysis and advice to the President and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the full range of critical public health, medical, and health system issues facing the Nation."

Organizations urging the study and signing the letter include the American Dental Association,  Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Periodontology, American Association for Dental Research, American Association of Dental Consultants, American Association of Endodontists, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Association of Public Health Dentistry, American Association of Women Dentists, American College of Prosthodontists, American Dental Education Association, American Dental Hygienists' Association, American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists, Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors, Hispanic Dental Association and National Dental Association.