By: Claudia Quintanilla, Front Desk
Have you ever been to the store and grabbed an energy drink for the road? Or purchased one to help you study for that major exam? Have you ever thought of the damage that it can cause on your teeth? Energy drinks can help you give that boost of energy you need, but studies have shown there may be some consequences to these helpful beverages.
With today’s busy lifestyle, energy drinks are becoming very popular; research has shown that, “approximately 30-50% of adolescents and young adults in the US consume energy drinks.” While most people are under the impression that these drinks are healthier than sodas, dentists are seeing a trend in young patients with an increase of acid worn teeth.
Not only are these drinks full of sugar, but they also contain citric acid, which is also found in juices and soda. The purpose of the acid is to increase shelf life and improve taste. From a dental perspective, citric acid can lead to the stripping of the tooth enamel, making teeth extremely decay prone. Enamel is the thin outer layer of the teeth, which protects them on a daily basis from chewing, bacteria, and temperature sensitivity. With damage to the outer surface, not only are the teeth more decay probe, but some patients may have significant increases in tooth sensitivity.
A study published by researchers at Southern University School of Dentistry, in the journal General Dentistry , simulated daily intake of these beverages in teenagers and young adults. Headed by Poonam Jain, the study was conducted by taking 13 types of sports and 9 energy drinks and placing them in Petri dishes containing human tooth enamel. It was done in 15 minute intervals, after which the samples were placed in artificial saliva for 2 hours. The test was done over a period of 5 days, up to 4 times daily. After analyzing the data, the study concluded that energy drinks took off an average of 3% of tooth enamel, compared to sports drinks with an average 1.5%. While the results were definitely surprising, there are some arguments to these results; the American Beverage Association’s response was that no individual keeps beverages in their mouth in intervals of 15 minutes, and that ultimately each person’s teeth depend on their dental behavior, diet, genetic make-up and lifestyle.
Just like any food or beverage, the key is moderation. If a person does not want to give up drinking their energy drinks, here are some suggestions:
– Reduce the overall consumption of sport and energy drinks, as well as high sugar sodas
– Refrain from sipping the beverage over long periods of time. This can reduce the long-term exposure to the harmful ingredients
– Chewing on sugar-free gum can increase the flow of saliva, which contains minerals and proteins that protect the enamel of your teeth
– Rinse with water after the energy beverage to wash away excess sugar and acid.