Some of the most popular products available today are energy drinks. These energy drinks damage teeth. It comes as no surprise that Americans love the stuff. Between 30 and 50% of teens alone consume them. Contents of these drinks promise long-lasting energy boosts through caffeine, sugar, and herbal ingredients. The effectiveness and safety of these ingredients have been debated for some time now. But how safe is your mouth? Find out what energy drinks can do to your teeth.
You’ve just finished a long workout in the July heat. You’re thirsty and crave electrolytes. Although a sports drink is an easy option, you might want to consider drinking water and eating a banana if you’re at all concerned about your oral health. Let’s examine another scenario. You’ve been at your office computer for six hours straight and need a pick-me-up. Based on recent studies, you should skip the energy drink for the sake of your teeth. Sports and energy drinks are terrible for your oral health
Energizing Tooth Decay
Studies show energy drinks corrode 3.1% of enamel on teeth. This decaying power comes from large amounts of citric acid, a flavor-enhancing preservative. This ingredient in particular can easily damage teeth. So, routinely drinking energy drinks equates to bathing teeth in citric acid. Damaging or losing tooth enamel leaves teeth vulnerable to dental caries (cavities). The acid from energy drinks de-mineralizes enamel, allowing teeth to decay. Over time, saliva naturally fills cracks in enamel by replenishing minerals. However, when teeth were submerged in energy drinks, then in saliva, results showed teeth had difficulty recovering from prolonged exposure to citric acid.
Cleaning Teeth after Energy Drinks
Not consuming energy drinks obviously prevents them from decaying teeth. But what if you can’t kick the habit quite yet? Rinse with water after an energy drink to clear your mouth of acid. Chewing gum also helps cleanse your teeth. Drinking and chewing produce saliva, your natural rinse that removes acid and re-mineralizes damaged enamel. Although you should brush after meals, brushing after energy drinks isn’t such a good idea. Teeth with weakened enamel may have more damage inflicted upon them by toothbrush bristles. If energy drinks have negatively affected your smile, your dentist could provide some solutions to restore teeth or stop tooth decay.
Acid-Washing Your Teeth
A recent study published in General Dentistry suggests that sports drinks cause irreversible damage to tooth enamel, which is particularly troubling given the fact that sports drinks are so popular with young people. “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,” said Dr. Poonam Jain, the lead author of the study. “Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid.”
Researchers tested 13 sports drinks with varying levels of acidity, using methods that mimicked a typical consumption pattern. Damage to tooth enamel was evident after five days. Energy drinks nearly doubled the damage.
An estimated 50 percent of US teenagers consume energy drinks and as many as 62 percent of teens consume at least one energy drink per day.
Sports and energy drinks promote tooth decay because of the high levels of acids present in the beverages. These acids work like infantry soldiers in a battle. They break down the protective outer layer of the tooth, exposing the softer layer called dentin. With the defenses weakened, bacteria can ravage the tooth.
Mitigating the Damage
One way to keep sports and energy drinks from damaging your teeth is avoiding them. However, if you do consume them, chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva production and wash your mouth out with water. Restoring the pH balance in the mouth will help to minimize enamel erosion.
Find out if energy drinks damage your teeth
The cleanest your mouth will feel is after a visit to your dentist. Dr. Fondriest can provide an oral examination and cleaning to help fight tooth decay. Schedule an appointment at our office by calling (847) 234-0517 today. We welcome patients from Lake Forest and the North Shore suburbs of Chicago.