Today sports and energy drinks are very popular and may seem like a healthy beverage choice, but they can also cause serious damage to your teeth. A recent study from the Academy of General Dentistry found sports drinks contain so much acid that they start destroying teeth after only five days of consistent use.
The Damage Sports Drinks Cause
The big misconception is that sports and energy drinks are healthier than soda when it comes to oral health. These drinks contain such high levels of acidity, actually twice the amount in soda per the study, that they can cause irreversible damage to your teeth. The acid in these drinks breaks down your tooth’s enamel, the shiny, hard outer layer of your teeth, causing them to become very sensitive to temperature changes and touch, leaving you more susceptible to tooth decay and prone to cavities.
These types of drinks are mostly consumed by teens and young adults. According to research, 50% of this population drinks sports drinks and 62% have at least one sports drink per day. A study by the Academy of General Dentistry found that “an alarming increase in the consumption of sports and energy drinks, especially among adolescents, 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,” said lead author of the study Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH. “Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid.”
Curious how sports drinks rank in acidity? Below are some popular beverages listed with their pH values. The lower the number, the more acidic and erosive.
Monster Assault – 3.49
Red Bull – 3.37
Gatorade Fruit Punch – 3.27
Propel Mango – 3.23
Gatorade Lemon-Lime – 3.07
Full Throttle Energy Drink – 2.94
Gatorade Cool Blue – 2.92
5-Hour Energy – 2.81
Powerade Red – 2.77
Rockstar – 2.53
What to Do
While water is the best way to quench thirst and keep your teeth strong. If you do drink Sports or Energy drinks, here are some things you can do to help reduce the damage, keeping your teeth white and healthy:
- Minimize the amount of sports and energy drinks you consume
- Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. Brushing immediately after drinking acidic drinks can cause serious corrosion of dentin, the layer below your tooth’s enamel.
- Drink with a straw or in one sitting. Dentists say: “Sip all day, get decay.”
- Neutralize the effect of sports drinks by alternating sips of water with the drink.
- Chew sugar-free gum to increase the amount of saliva in your mouth or rinse your mouth with water following consumption of sports drinks. Both will help decrease the acidity in your mouth and return the PH of your mouth to a more normal level.
Some experts suggest using natural fruit juices or coconut water, which have great re-hydrating abilities, as alternatives to drinking sports drinks. Sports and energy drinks are loaded with sugar, acid, caffeine, and artificial ingredients. They are costly to buy and could cost you much more in dentist bills due to damaged teeth.
Schedule a Dentist Appointment in Annapolis, MD
Annapolis Smiles offers preventative dental care and other general dentistry services to patients in Annapolis, MD. Dr. Scott Finlay specializes in cosmetic, implant, and restorative dentistry services, including dental crowns and bridges. To schedule an appointment with us, contact our office online or reach us by phone at 410.989.7132.