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Do Sport and Energy Drinks Damage Teeth?

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Recent studies have identified a correlation between drinking sport or energy drinks and dental damage including an increase in cavities.

Sports drinks

During or after a game or workout, many children and adults reach for a sport drink to replenish their lost fluids. Unfortunately, the rising rate of dental problems in athletes (from pre-school to adults) supports the findings in a recent study by British Journal of Sports Medicine, that the cause of increased dental issues lies in consumption of sport drinks. In fact, sports drinks can cause 3 times more damage to teeth than soda. The study found that the most common dental problems among athletes who consumed sports drinks are: tooth decay, gum disease, enamel erosion, and infected wisdom teeth that are partially erupted.

We will get more into the science specifics in a future article but for now, just know that the sugar found in sport (and energy drink and gels) adhere to the teeth, more so than saliva. This in turn promotes acid production for the oral bacteria and puts you at a higher risk for decay. The enamel is then weakened and broken down by acids of a pH lower than 5.5. (Most sports drinks have a PH between 2.4-4.5).

According to study published in the journal  General Dentistry, these drinks contain so much acid that they start destroying teeth after only five days of consistent use.

Energy Drinks

Likewise, many people reach for an energy drink when they’re a little sleepy. The misconception is that drinking either an energy or a sports drink is better than soda. This is simply not the case. In fact, a study published in the journal General Dentistry completely disproved that. They found support that sport and energy drinks erode or thin out teeth enamel which will leave them even more vulnerable to decay.

To summarize, Dr. Jackson advises that water is the best way to go when you need to re-hydrate. Sports drinks make little sense for anyone except endurance athletes under intense training, such as marathon runners. As for energy drinks, even 1 energy drink per day is potentially harmful to teeth because of high acidity. If you must consume sports or energy drinks, you should dilute the acid content by rinsing with water after consumption. Do nut brush your teeth immediately after consumption of a sports or energy drink. Wait at least one hour to allow your saliva to bring the PH back to normal before brushing. Consider using products like mouthwash, or sugar-free gum following consumption of either sport or energy drinks as these stimulate the salivary flow.