While commercials tell us that sports drinks bring our water-depleted bodies the nutrition and hydration they desperately need, what they don’t tell you is that sports and energy drinks are terrible for your teeth! According to researcher Poonam Jain, BDS, MPH, Director of Community Dentistry and an associate professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine, “The big misconception is that energy drinks and sports drinks are healthier than soda for oral health. This study completely disproves that, because they erode or thin out the enamel of the teeth, leaving them more susceptible to decay and sensitivity.” And, by the way, this damage to the enamel will also increase the risks of tooth sensitivity!
Dr. Jain and fellow researchers measured the acidity of 9 energy drinks and 13 sports drinks. Six were tested on tooth enamel. Energy drinks were found to be twice as damaging to enamel as sports drinks, with average enamel loss of 1.5% from sports drinks and more than 3% enamel loss caused by energy drinks, like 5-Hour Energy.
Because drinks like Red Bull, Monster and 5-Hour Energy are so popular among teens, it’s important that parents understand the very real risks to dental enamel. Once your child’s dental enamel is damaged, it cannot be fixed.
These drinks were found to be the most acidic:
- Gatorade Blue
- Red Bull Sugarfree
- Monster Assault
- 5-Hour Energy
Although the American Beverage Association refutes the claims of this test, as a pediatric dentist, I feel strongly that avoiding acidic beverages like sports and energy drinks, as well as soda and fruit juices, is essential to decrease the risk of enamel loss. If you or your child cannot brush after drinking sugary or acidic beverages, an effective option is to rinse the mouth with baking soda (mixed with water) to help neutralize the acids.
Children mimic their parents’ behaviors. You can set a good example for your children by drinking water instead of sports drinks, soda, fruit juices and energy drinks, which will go a long way to giving them the gift of a lifetime of dental health. If your child is regularly consuming these kinds of beverages and is unwilling to give them up, rinsing the mouth afterwards is helpful. Contrary to what you might think, brushing immediately afterwards will just spread the acid around, but rinsing the mouth with plain water is the best way to dilute the effects of the acid in the beverage.