A candy bar might not lead to a car wreck or an overdose, but if eaten often enough, it can cause long-term damage to your teen's health. The least of your worries with sweets are tooth damage and decay. Sodas, in particular, are a threat to oral health because not only are they packed with sugar, they're also very acidic -- a quality that can corrode tooth enamel. Sugar-containing hard candies and mints are also harmful to teeth because of the amount of time they stay in the mouth.
Sweets tend to go easier on the choppers when eaten with a meal rather than alone. Researchers think this is because the increased saliva helps wash away the sugar. Because people produce the least amount of saliva during sleep, before bed is the worst time of day for teens to eat sugary snacks [source: Goss].
Of course, the biggest health threat of sweets is obesity. Sugary foods and drinks usually aren't the sole culprits of weight gain; a sedentary lifestyle and a high-fat, high-calorie diet tend to combine to cause the problem. However, a teen who cuts back on sweets can help prevent obesity and the related problems it creates, including Type 2 diabetes, back pain, gallstones, sleep disorders and increased risk of cardiovascular disease [source: American Academy of Pediatrics].
You can help your teen improve his or her nutrition by keeping your house stocked with healthy snacks.
Keep reading for the final oral habit your teen needs to end right away.