In the late 1980's the candy industry discovered how much young people enjoy the kick of a sour taste. There had been a few candies out there on the market (i.e. sweet tarts) that were selling very well. They took the hint and began creating their standard candies in a sour version. Over the years it has transformed the candy industry. The financial success of "sour" candies was even reported in the Wall Street Journal.
To give you a hint at what happened, consider "Warheads." The challenge to the young folks was to pop the Warhead in their mouth and time how many seconds they could keep it there before they had to spit it out because it was too sour! If they made 18 seconds, they mastered it. Candy had become sport!
Now consider your chemistry lessons. Sour taste means acid; remember? Acid dissolves things, especially mineral things (like tooth enamel). The candy industry has added three acids (citric, ascorbic and malic) to create this sour sensation. Those acids are dissolving the enamel of the teeth.
First, the dissolving of enamel exposes spots of dentin which are sensitive. The kids begin to complain of their teeth hurting when they bite on things with their molars.
Second, I see a noticeable smoothing and loss of anatomy on the tooth surface as the enamel is lost. This obviously will lead to the need for a crown to cover the whole tooth. Remember, we are talking about permanent teeth at this age! This process of deterioration from perfect tooth to needing a crown can occur as quickly as one year. Wow! This acid is powerful stuff. And it happens to all the teeth at once. We are not talking about one tooth with a cavity.
Third, I see a definite increase in cavities. Cavities occur much faster in an acid environment. The bacteria that cause cavities thrive in acid.
As a matter of fact, the younger generation has been showing disturbing changes for a while. The use of carbonated beverages (carbonic acid) was linked to the sensitive tooth problem before the sour candies hit the scene. Most of the young population now drinks sodas daily, occasionally to the exclusion of water. After 40 years of watching the cavity rate go down, we are seeing the cavity rate climb in our young population. That is distressing!
Please have a discussion in your family about how a shift away from healthy eating and living can cause life time problems. I personally would love to see people drink water and enjoy their sweets as a treat for dessert or a special occasion. Frequent use of simple sugars puts a huge load on the endocrine system and immune system as they struggle to keep blood sugar in balance and disease resistance high. Healthy eating is critical to living active, fun and joyful lives.