Energy & Sports Drinks Can Damage Your Teeth

Close up of two bottles of soft drink

Close up of two bottles of soft drink

Irreversible tooth damage? From sports drinks?

A recent study published in the May/June 2012 issue of General Dentistry found that an alarming increase in the consumption of sports and energy drinks, especially among adolescents, is causing irreversible damage to teeth. Specifically, the high acidity levels in the drinks erode tooth enamel, which is the glossy outer layer of the tooth.

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Worse, the researchers found that damage to enamel was evident after only five days of exposure to sports or energy drinks, although energy drinks showed a significantly greater potential to damage teeth than sports drinks. In fact, the authors found that energy drinks caused twice as much damage to teeth as sports drinks.

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“Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are ‘better’ for them than soda,” says Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH, lead author of the study. “Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid.”

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Researchers examined the acidity levels in 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks. They found that the acidity levels can vary between brands of beverages and flavors of the same brand.

“Teens regularly come into my office with these types of symptoms, but they don’t know why,” says AGD spokesperson Jennifer Bone, DDS, MAGD. “We review their diet and snacking habits and then we discuss their consumption of these beverages. They don’t realize that something as seemingly harmless as a sports or energy drink can do a lot of damage to their teeth.”

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Dr. Bone recommends that her patients minimize their intake of sports and energy drinks. She also advises them to chew sugar-free gum or rinse the mouth with water following consumption of the drinks.

“Both tactics increase saliva flow, which naturally helps to return the acidity levels in the mouth to normal,” she says.

Also, patients should wait at least an hour to brush their teeth after consuming sports and energy drinks. Otherwise, says Dr. Bone, they will be spreading acid onto the tooth surfaces, increasing the erosive action.

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