4 Year Old’s Teeth Ravaged By Juice and Soda [Gruesome Pic]


Sorry, the picture has been removed

at the request of the photographer


We received this picture in an email from a pediatric dentist, after she read our post on the soft drink calorie commercial. Here is the accompanying text:

Hi Fooducate,

Attached is a picture of the mouth of a 4 year old kid !!!!!!!

He used to “love” sodas and juices. As you can see, the dangers of soft drinks are beyond calories! I moved from Italy some years ago to USA, and believe me, it is SHOCKING to see the way many people eat here. Adults can choose, but kids can’t. They depend on the knowledge of their parents, especially their mothers.

This kind of damage – we need to stop it. All the industries making billions of dollars by destroying the health of innocent kids. For me all these drink “products” are not food.. I call them “poisons”….

When I educate the mothers of my patients about the causes of their tooth decay, many of them cry, since they truly believed that the juices and drinks they saw advertised (with supplements of vitamins, minerals, etc) are healthy for their children.

As you can imagine, when a kid has a mouth like this (I cannot imagine the pain), they can’t chew, so the only thing that they can do – tragic solution – is drink to avoid more pain! So they drink more juice. Can you believe how tragic the situation is? For me, it is like you are putting gasoline to the fire, thinking that you will stop it.

Some juices and soft drinks have a pH around 2.30 whereas our pH in balance will be around 7.00. When I explain to parents that the battery acid (for a car) is 1.00, and they are serving their children liquids with a very close percentage of acidity (plus in some cases 12 tsp os sugars in a 12 oz drink) they are without words…

So why we do not turn back to remember what Hippocrates  said: A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings and let our food be our medicine, and our medicine be our food.

I would like to share with you an anecdote from when we just moved to USA from Europe. My youngest daughter said to me “Mom, you should quickly learn English!” When I asked “why?”, she said “Well just look at the paint that you bought thinking that it is yogurt…”

It’s hard to find “normal products” here, like yogurt or bread or cookies without sugars added, corn syrup, trans fats, hydrogenated oils..and who knows how many others “fancy” ingredients that sometimes you need a degree to be able to read and imagine what could it mean?.

Even going to the restaurant to find a salad without sugary dressing is difficult. In Italy, you have olive oil and balsamic vinegar and you are all set.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/DrSusan-Rubin/1372112028 DrSusan Rubin

    That’s right – JUICE! In my 14 years of dental practice, I urged my local pediatricians to cease and desist with recommending juice for toddlers. I saw more than my fair share of this sort of “rot” in my wealthy suburban dental practice.
    When I left dentistry and went back to school for nutrition and studied Chinese herbal medicine, I learned even more reasons not to drink juice or ingest refined sugar. There is absolutely no health benefit in drinking juice.


    • Dolove

      Even orange juice with calcium?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5031793 Ciera Lemoniades

        No. There are plenty of food sources for calcium. My doctor explained it this way. There might be the juice of 20 oranges in one carton of juice. So when you drink a glass you are getting the calories, sugar, and none of the fiber or many of the vitamins and minerals that you would get from simply eating the orange itself.

        • Dolove

          good point about the fiber. :)
          But i’ll still drink my yummy juice. I mean fruit has is own calories and natural sugar too.

  • http://twitter.com/lauren_015 Lauren Smith

    Ugh. I’m so ashamed to be an American some days. Most days, actually.

    • Reeper7994

      Lauren Smith….can I say “overstatement”!! Go fight for a clean glass of water in Africa! Yes, this is a horrible situation for a 4 year old and parents need to take note. But, it’s not America’s fault. Bad parenting is in every country. It’s called personal responsibility!

      • UntilWeAreFree

        Our food choices are few and disappearing every day. GMOs are taking over even organic crops. And no one seems to care. This is the problem in this country. If everyone would rise up and demand healthier foods, then they would have to accommodate us. But everyone has been dumbed down by fluoride and other pollutants and an inferior school system.

        • Mr. Bob

          Not sure where you live, but in the Midwest we are getting more choice. Coops, farmers markets and speciatly store (e.g. good bakeries) are poping up everywhere. Things are getting better. Yes, it is slower than many would like, but it is getting better.

    • Obvious Truth

      Then leave.

      • StevieR2002

        Corporate America has ruined this country, I say that thy should leave and give the country back to the people that would actually take care of it (including the citizens)

  • http://definitelynotmartha.blogspot.com Leslie

    I have a 2.5 year old – juice is a rare treat, and when it is served, it’s never more than 50% strength. Pop has never happened (don’t see the point!). I am a firm believer that calories and energy and nourishment should come from foods you EAT and not ‘foods’ you drink.

  • 24paws

    When my daughter was young we didn’t have all this sweetened juice, and we didn’t buy soda very much either. Parents just cannot seem to be able to purse their lips and say “no”. If it isn’t in the house, it isn’t going down their gullet to not only ruin their teeth but put weight on them.

  • http://twitter.com/awakewellness Rachel Assuncao

    Wow…that poor kid. It never ceases to amaze me the damage that ‘food products’ can cause to people. In Canada, we have photos and dire warnings on cigarette packages to advise people of the health effects of smoking. Imagine if photos like this and equal warnings were required on ‘food products’ that damage your health? I bet the consumption would go down!

  • Jhahn

    maybe actually brushing teeth would have helped a bit

    • Wendic22

      Teeth need mineral and ‘food’ to grow and be healthy. Brushing prob would have done nothing!

  • C Jones

    I wonder if the child had correct dentistry done while younger – I know I received a good quality of care from my dentist especially on fluoride and sealants which help prevent early cavities and degradation of teeth. Looks like this mother didn’t exactly help with the soda and juice, but I don’t think it’s 100% of the cause here.

  • http://thewifeofadairyman.blogspot.com Nancy~the wife of a dairyman

    Wow! My 6 and 4 year olds are not allowed to have soda, ever and juice is a party treat. We have a dairy and drink our own raw milk. I DID show my kids the photo above so they can have a visual on why ‘Mommy’ doesn’t let them drink sodas or have juice very often….I think they understand now, Mommy is not the ‘bad guy’, thanks:)

    • http://www.thefrugaldietitian.com Nancy – The Frugal dietitian

      But milk has sugar too (lactose) and can be a cause also.

    • Corey

      Raw milk is even more dangerous than soda, especially to children. Speaking from a microbiological standpoint anyway.

      • scballou

        actually most raw milk isn’t bad for you. it produces enzymes that our body uses to help tolerate things that might be dangerous in the milk. How do you think people drank milk on farms for the last 200 years or so? Now, saying that, the farmer has to be super fastidious in their cleaning of the animals and all of the instruments used for milking… but the myth that raw milk is bad for you… is simply that, a myth.

  • shris

    Wow. I have two six-year-olds. They are given milk or water with meals. Juice isn’t completely rare, but definitely not frequent. We don’t provide flavored beverages between meals–for that they get water.

    When I was a kid, I had nine fillings before my baby teeth fell out. In my house it was soda that was always available, regularly consumed in large quantities. I still have a mouth full of dental work, and when my kids were born I was determined they should have better teeth than I did. My teeth were sensitive for fifteen years, but I can’t even imagine the agony this poor child feels with all the teeth rotted to nubs.

    I am pretty fortunate in that my kids don’t like ‘fizzy drinks’ and we don’t serve them to the kids. I don’t drink them myself anymore, been off ‘em for over ten years now and my teeth have improved. I’m sure they’ll adopt fizzy drinks later as the peer pressure grows and the opportunities grow too. Hopefully by then the habits of years will help them keep from dissolving their teeth this way.
    :( How sad that so many people believe the marketing and don’t educate themselves. How sad that marketing is so often a lie. How sad that children bear the burden of these exaggerations and misinformation and outright lies.

  • http://www.culturezest.org/home/users/detail?UserHexID=73427218-9BE9-4919-8842-F2D519B90147 Morgan

    This is absolutely horrifying. Why would a parent let their child drink that much soda and juice? Do they just not care?

    • sandy79

      Soda is cheap and sweet. Until recently WIC paid for 100% juice but NOT for fresh fruit! Many people believe drinking fruit or veggie juices is nutritionally equivalent to eating them and gladly do so because they are cheaper to buy than fresh fruits and vegetables whereas we know they are not equivalent.

  • Dolove

    Umm does he even brush his teeth or live in an area with fluorinated water?

  • Miatta George


  • Wendic22

    The problem is not the soda’s for say. Its the lack of minerals and goodness in the child’s diet! Food=teeth! You need good minerals and vitamins to help keep your teeth AND bones strong! Fresh orange juice is all that is good when talking about juice. Something in the store has more than you think! Read the label ANNNNDDD anything that is 30% less than the overall ingredients don’t have to be listed! So aspartame is a big hidden secret and many others! Wake up and smell the coffee (no pun intended!)

    • Corey

      All Ingredients in a product must be listed, there is not law or regulation stating that if it makes up less than 30% of a product it does not have to be listed, that is a completely false statement unless you can back it up with a citation.

  • Cat

    I have to agree with the other comment this dentist made about it being hard to buy ‘normal’ food here. I was so excited to be moving to the US after having spent a few years in less developed countries but I am horrified by the lack of unadulterated food. I just had no idea it was so bad here. Why does everything have to be altered so much? Thank heavens I learnt how to cook from scratch so I can feed my family properly. (I still love the US though!)

  • Lisa


    I’ll admit, I was a sugar fiend as a kid. But what did me in more than the food, because we had healthy eating habits, was not brushing regularly. After going for a ton of fillings, I started cutting out the pop and sweets on my own at 10. My teeth hurt just thinking of the amount of sugar I used to consume! My adult teeth are in good shape, but I know I was lucky that I smartened up when I did.

  • MJ

    Incredibly sad. I’m glad that we hardly had juice in the house and never bothered with soda when my kids were little. They are both teenagers now and have never craved sweets or had cavities.

    I can relate to the comment about yogurt and fruit. I grew up in Europe and the only yogurt available at the time was plain yogurt, so that’s what I’ve always preferred. By comparison, having flavored yogurt is like eating a candy bar.

  • Jim Cooper

    For goodness sake, do you ever check out the validity of these wild claims?
    See for example http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/acid.asp

    If you are going to write about science you need to be more careful!

  • http://www.thefrugaldietitian.com Nancy – The Frugal dietitian

    I used to see this frequently when I worked in WIC. The main cause was the continuing use of a baby bottle (with juice and/or milk)in toddlers. We had a poster up showing pictures like this PLUS I had a smaller picture the toddler could take home. Mom would put it on the refrigerator and some toddlers would stop then. In some legal immigrants we had it was common to use a baby bottle in the toddler years and the expectation was that the teeth would “rot out”. They figured the second teeth were there so no problem – not realizing that it affected the positioning of the second teeth.

    • http://twitter.com/PolPrairieMama Polish Mama

      That’s some cultures that the immigrants are coming from. Not all immigrants feel that way. In Europe, we don’t do that to our kids.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/DrSusan-Rubin/1372112028 DrSusan Rubin

      Part of the problem is that WIC promotes juice as a health supportive beverage. Big mistake. Pediatric Endocrinologist Robert Lustig has a great presentation on why fructose in juice is destructive. He speaks about the problems with the USDA and how WIC should discontinue this practice.
      Also note that Tropicana is a Pepsi product and Minute Maid is owned by Coca Cola. Eat an orange instead!

  • http://www.karasorensen.com Kara

    This is so sad. As a health practitioner, I have the opportunity to educate my adult patients about the health effects of soda and sugar consumption. They feel the health benefits if/when they reduce or cut out sugar. But so many in the US don’t have this opportunity, they just have the media tempting them with ‘food’ items that are not really food, and children are the victims. I wish there was a way to educate parents of young children before things get to this level. I wish there was nutrition education in schools and during prenatal care. I wish we ate more like the Italians and said no to GMO’s and highly refined foods as a general rule. I’m glad there are caring professionals out there and thank you Dr. Veronika for sending this in!

    • AG

      Kara…and also to the other person who mentioned WIC. For a short time my husband was without work and our income forced us to need assistance like the WIC program, which gives families assistance to purchase items, including juice, milk, etc…and beginning a few years ago, they did start giving assistance for fresh fruits/veggies. I feel that there are educational programs out there, for FREE to these parents. My husband and I both are educated with Bachelor’s/Master’s and were fortunate enough to be taught well, and have good dental care. I saw plenty of people while in the WIC offices with children in this condition as we see in this picture. It was heart-wrenching to see children being brought in this way. Being given sugary drinks, sucking them down in those little mouths- their teeth stand no chance. Every 3 months, I had to meet with the WIC staff for re-evaluations and check pick-ups, which is why these moms were also there. At each of these times, we were all briefly instructed on nutrition and making sure children and babies weren’t put to bed with drinks in their mouths, proper dental care like brushing teeth before bed, eating healthy…etc. I feel like even with all the free help in the world, some parents just don’t care about the well-being of their children and the children are going to grow up with this kind of treatment and pain.
      Very sad.

  • http://twitter.com/PolPrairieMama Polish Mama

    I agree. Sour cream here is not sour cream, it is milk fats filled with guar gum and all sorts of strange ingredients I would never eat. The same with pickles, why do they need preservatives and yellow food dye?! I am fortunate to have come from another country and have the ability to visit other countries in order to know what food here is real and what isn’t… Others are not so lucky and think I am strange. I feel sorry for them in their ignorance.

    • Corey

      If you get regular sour cream it is more often than not just that, sour cream. If you get low-fat sour cream, however, it is usually supplemented with several gums, etc. in order to provide the same mouthfeel and texture as the regular sour cream with less or no fat at all.

  • DigityDug

    American diets are a combination of Corporate greed and a corrupt Congress. The Mega food companies are subsidized to keep the cost of food down while more natural foods are not. A Whopper Jr. costs .99 while a green pepper is $2.25 I’ve been in the unenviable position of having to feed my family of four with only $10 in my pocket. What would you do?

    • scballou

      People are the reason for this… not Corporate greed or corrupt congress. Both have an affect, but in the end. It is the consumers who are buying this stuff that are saying “its okay”. We the people, not them the greedy.

  • Mr. Bob

    I would agree that giving your child a constant supply of juice, pop or even breast milk is bad. BUT lets get some facts straight:

    -pH is not a percentage, its a log scale (scary math term). This mean that a pH of 2 is ten time less acidic than a pH of 1. Not half as acidic. I don’t expect most people to remember this (yes, you did learn this in HS chemistry). But a dentist should.

    -Coke and carbonated water have about the same pH. The amount of phosporic acid in coke is very small. Most of the acidity comes from the dissolved carbon dioxide.

    -With regard to tooth decay, it is the duration of the exposure NOT the quanitity. This means that sipping one can of coke all day is worse than drinking 2 cans of coke in 5 minutes.

    It is important that we stick to the fact and avoid drama when trying to educate the public. For many people, one wrong fact can discredit your entire arguement.

    • Brooke

      I have to agree that I seriously questioned Veronika’s credentials after her explanation of pH to the parents. Yes, juice has a low (acidic) pH – but so does the whole fruit from which it is derived. And I don’t think you’re going to hear a doctor telling parents not to give children fruit due to a low pH. Moreover to this point is the fact that stomach acid is lower than anything (that I can think of) that you would consume. So the whole “our pH in balance will be around 7.00″ argument is nonsense! Any doctor, dental or otherwise would never say such a thing and if they did, I’d pack my stuff and run. Far.

      But as to this poor child, my heart goes out. However, I would be willing to bet lots of money that this child was put to bed with a bottle/sippy cup of juice or milk each night and that is the most significant reason for the decay. Very sad.

  • Jim Cooper

    Tooth decay is causes by bacteria in the plaque generating acid as they eat sugars. There is no real evidence that it is caused by acidic drinks. Too read about tooth decay, look at the Mayo Clinic site http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cavities/DS00896/DSECTION=causes
    Note also that this whole article may well be a hoax since snopes.com has debunked similar claims for phosphoric acid.

  • James

    This cannot be possible. In the greatest nation in the world, and this is what we have to show for it? Unbelievable, simply unbelievable. Hug you kids, love them, but love them by not allowing this to happen to them. This parent/parents appear to have giving the child what ever he/she wanted whenever he/she wanted it, but forget to look out for the child’s well being. SMH, it’s a shame. Fortunately, if the damage isn’t to severe, the child will recover. He/she’s only 4, her/his permanent teeth haven’t developed yet. But I think that some damage is inevitable. Gezzz, parents should be arrested for child abuse.

  • http://twitter.com/dckate Katie Burkert

    I bet when this kid DID drink water, it was bottled – sans flouride. How is this not considered child neglect? Were authorities called? Teeth are bones. If that kid showed up in a hospital with bones anywhere else in his body looking like that, you better believe that he’d be in foster care.

  • Disgustinghippaviolation

    Good job editorial staff upholding privacy. I’m 99% sure your source violated HIPAA policies and for you to post such a thing is equally appalling. Failure to comply with HIPAA can result in civil and criminal penalties.

  • RJM

    I really love this blog, but I have to question this post. Why did you simply post this, from an unverified source? The science is just plain wrong, and the story has been debunked. I urge you to retract this post, because you are misinforming your readers.

    Is juice bad? When drunk in excess, yes! Does average consumption of juice cause this damage? No. This is a lack of proper brushing and dental maintenance. Juice and milk may have added to this, but was not the main cause.

    Seriously, get your facts straight.

  • Fernanda3

    I don’t get the thing against juice? If I drink fresh squeezed OJ is this really bad? I don’t add any sugars but just the ones from the fruit, at my house we always had fresh juice fresh squeezed from fruits… or when you say juice are you referring to the stuff sold in the supermarkets?

    • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Fooducate

      Think of juice more as a treat than as a daily hydration solution. Nothing in the world tastes as good as freshly squeezed OJ, but sugar is sugar, and you don’t get all the fiber of the real orange.

  • Penny0314

    I agree that parents should work vigorously to teach their children good mouth care skills very early, and should do it for them before they’re old enough to do their own. Now, shall we talk about the extremely high cost of dentistry and the decreasing number of people covered by dental insurance? We can go one step further and add the multiple millions who cannot even afford basic health care. Meanwhile, web sites like this one are incredibly valuable for educating parents (and grandparents!) about the problems with our foods! Thank you!

  • http://concorddentist4u.com/about-concord-dentists.html Nathan Bedingfield

    Oh well! Today there are some of food and beverages that may stain your teeth and even cause damage! That’s why brushing, flossing, and gargling with mouthwash are important for cleaning your teeth and mouth. Practicing proper oral hygiene among kids is very important to avoid such oral problems and maintain healthy teeth. =)

  • Sahm Jsprankle

    My son gets a lot of juice but we do try to brush and floss a couple times daily. Now soda, that’s something I’ve never thought to let him taste. Can’t think of anything that would be good about it for him (and I myself am a soda addict!) I’ve found this Mom’s Guide to Caring for Little Teeth (http://www.1dental.com/moms-guide/) has helpful info and tips on taking care of your kids’ oral health from the infant years and even some helpful info for teenagers.

  • http://bradpitts.com/cosmetic_services.html Randy Deaver

    That’s the sad thing about food these days. Kids are susceptible to these harmful chemicals found in junk food and drinks. People should keep in mind that what they put in their mouth will affect their health. Those sweet drinks contain high levels of sugar and other chemicals which can damage their teeth. Visiting the dentist is one of the best ways to prevent serious impairment. Drinking water is more helpful, too.

  • http://twitter.com/Sk88queen Sk88queen

    It’s amazing how people are duped into thinking “food like substances” are good for them just because a commercial tells them so…