If you think soda is more dangerous to teeth than energy drinks, think again!
In a study published in the May/June issue of General Dentistry, researchers looked at the effects of energy and sports drinks on teeth. One of the reasons they wanted to test energy drinks in particular is that there is often a lot of citric acid in the drinks. Citric acid is a type of preservative used to give the drinks a longer shelf life and enhance their flavors. Unfortunately, as it’s a strong acid, it is also excellent at stripping the enamel right off of teeth.
Drink labels must list citric acid in the ingredients if it’s used, but they don’t have to show the exact amount.
30 to 50 percent of teens consume energy and sports drinks, which means they are more than likely also losing enamel. Once enamel is gone, teeth are more prone to cavities and more likely to decay.
To measure the effect of these drinks on enamel erosion, the researchers looked at the fluoride levels, pH, and titratable acidity of 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks, including Gatorade and Red Bull.
The researchers then measured how badly enamel eroded when exposed to these drinks by immersing sliced-up molars in the beverages for 15 minutes, followed by artificial saliva for two hours. This was repeated four times a day for five days.
The researchers found that teeth lost enamel with exposure to both kinds of drinks, but energy drinks took off a lot more enamel than sports drinks.
The lead researcher in the study, Poonam Jain, an associate professor in the School of Dental Medicine at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, is concerned about health effects beyond cavities, as well. She says consuming a lot of citric acid can lead to loss of bone mass and also kidney stones. “This has become a big concern because people are drinking more of these drinks and less milk,” she says.
Dr. Kotre has seen a definite increase in teen cavities when these types of beverages are consumed repeatedly. If your teen is going to consume these drinks regardless of the hazards they pose to overall health, she recommends also consuming plenty of water to flush the acid and sugars away from the teeth once the drink is finished; drinking the beverage in one sitting and not sipping, which keeps the teeth exposed to the acids and sugars for a longer period of time; and chewing sugar-free gum with Xylitol which increases the flow of saliva and helps to wash the drink out of the mouth.
If you suspect that your teen is experiencing dental problems such as cavities, please give us a call today at 734-677-2156 and schedule them an appointment for a check up at our Ann Arbor dental practice.