Dental health in Americais under assault by an explosion in popularity for certain beverages. A new study in “General Dentistry” found that an alarming rise in sport and energy drink consumption is causing irreversible damage to teeth.
It seems that the high acidity levels in the drinks erode tooth enamel, which is the glossy outer layer of the tooth. While these drinks are most popular among younger adults, they have become quite pervasive across all segments of the population. Move aside, soft drinks, because energy drinks may take top spot as most acidic.
The marketing angle is that drinks improve your fitness and boost your energy levels. The general perception is that they are better for you than soda. Most people are surprised 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. The acidity levels can vary between different brands and flavors of the same brand. They immersed samples of human tooth enamel in each beverage for 15 minutes, followed by immersion in artificial saliva for two hours. This cycle was repeated four times a day for five days. This simulates typical exposure to those who drink these beverages regularly.
They found damage to enamel after only five days of exposure. Energy drinks showed a significantly greater potential to damage teeth than sports drinks. These drinks caused twice the damage to teeth as sports drinks.
With a reported 30% to 50% of U.S.teens consuming energy drinks, and as many as 62% consuming at least one sports drink per day, this is pretty significant stuff. We should all know that damage to tooth enamel is irreversible, and it leads to sensitivity in teeth, cavities and decay.
Here’s some quick health advice. The researchers recommend that people minimize their intake of sports and energy drinks. Also, chew sugar-free gum or rinse the mouth with water after you drink such beverages. This helps increase saliva flow, which naturally helps to return the acidity levels in the mouth to normal.
Wait at least an hour to brush your teeth after having a sport or energy drink. Otherwise, you will spread acid onto the tooth surfaces, increasing the erosive action.