Due to their high acidity levels, energy drinks are more detrimental to your dental health than you may think.
By: Dr. Benjamin Vela
A study published in the May/June 2012 issue of General Dentistry (the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry) found that the consumption of sports and energy drinks is causing irreversible damage to teeth. Specifically, the high acidity levels in the drinks erode tooth enamel, the glossy outer layer of the tooth.
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. Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid.
The researchers examined the acidity levels in 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks, and found that the acidity levels can vary between brands and flavors. After only five days, the research team found considerable damage to the test enamel, and that energy drinks caused twice as much damage to teeth as sports drinks. This type of damage to tooth enamel is irreversible, and without the protection of enamel, teeth become overly sensitive, prone to cavities and more likely to decay and wear down.
After just one sip of an energy drink, your saliva remains acidic enough to dissolve your enamel for upward of 20 minutes. Realistically, most people take at least 20 minutes just to finish the drink, so the acidic saliva remains beyond an hour or two. And before you know it, you take in some other form of drink aside from water, and that maintains the acidic environment for a longer period of time.
If you do consume energy or sports drinks, the Academy of General Dentistry recommends chewing sugar-free gum or rinsing your mouth with water after you’re done. Both tactics increase saliva flow, which naturally helps return the acidity levels in the mouth to normal. Essentially, the energy and sports drinks available now do more harm than good when it comes to your dental condition. And remember: If you already have a cavity, it can speed up the process and make it worse sooner than you think.
Finally, don’t think that brushing your teeth after a swig of an energy drink is going to help. You should wait at least an hour after consuming an energy or sports drink to brush – any sooner, and you’ll be spreading acid onto your tooth surfaces, increasing the erosive action.
Periodic cleanings and annual check-ups do wonders in diagnosing and treating early, small decay. However, daily habits tend to dictate how quickly disease progresses. The first step toward a healthy smile is visiting a dentist and dental team whose goals are to enable the change that can get you to a consistently healthy and clean mouth.
Dr. Benjamin Vela, owner of the Vela Dental Centers, diagnoses and treats dental decay from small, newly formed cavities to large, painful ones. His wonderful team will guide you to a new you and a smile as big as Texas. For more information, go online to www.veladental.com, call 361-994-4900 or visit the practice at 4822 Holly Road in Corpus Christi, Texas.