Dental News

Energy & Sports Drinks Destroy Kids’ Teeth

February 19, 2014

Research suggests energy and sports drinks can damage teeth after just 5 days of use

Energy & Sports Drinks Destroy Kids’ TeethEnergy and sports drinks are sometimes seen as a “healthier” alternative to soda. The fact of the matter is that most of these drinks are far more damaging to teeth than soda due to high sugar and acid content.

According to a study published in the journal General Dentistry, 50 percent of American teenagers use energy drinks. Plus, about 62 percent of teens consume at least one sports drink each day. Considering that researchers found that these beverages are so high in acid that they begin destroying teeth after just 5 days of consistent use, parents should be very concerned.

How Sugar Hurts Teeth

Sugar is bad for teeth because it feeds the harmful bacteria that live on the surface of teeth. When kids drink beverages that are high in sugar, these bacteria have a real feast before them and they respond by metabolizing the sugar into acid, which can erode tooth enamel and cause cavities.

How Acid Hurts Teeth

Foods and beverages that are highly acidic can damage teeth all on their own, without the help of oral bacteria. Once acid erosion begins attacking tooth enamel, teeth can become sensitive to temperatures, pressure, and touch, causing problems with eating and biting. Plus, eroded teeth also become more vulnerable to cavities and tooth decay.

Energy Drinks Worse than Sports Drinks

After measuring the acidity of 13 sports drinks and 9 energy drinks, researchers concluded that energy drinks are far worse for teeth than sports drinks. Though acidity levels varied from brand to brand and flavor to flavor, overall energy drinks caused twice as much damage as sports drinks.

Critics of the study object to these findings on the grounds that the researchers did not accurately represent how people use these beverages. Four times each day, the researchers immersed tooth samples in a beverage for 15 minutes, and then placed them in artificial saliva for two hours. This was repeated for five days. Of course, no one holds a beverage in their mouth for 15 minutes at a time, and few individuals drink four energy or sports drinks per day either.

However, the fact remains that any food or beverage with a high sugar and acidity content can harm teeth over time. The results from real-world use of energy and sports drinks may not be as dramatic as those found in the study, but that doesn’t mean these beverages are good for you. Health experts recommend avoiding the use of these beverages and instead seeking to improve energy levels with better sleep patterns and a healthier diet.

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