During the hot weather of summer, the energy drinks and sports drinks come out, particularly among youth athletes. The drinks market their benefits as helping athletes to replace water, electrolytes and energy after training or competition.
Many people believe that these drinks are healthier than soda. Their effectiveness, however, has been questioned, and the drinks are also linked to weight gain.
Another problem sports drinks and energy drinks have been linked to is damaging teeth. The culprit is the acid — a problem in sodas too. A study published a few years ago in the journal General Dentistry found that energy and sports drinks contain so much acid that they start eroding teeth after only five days of consistent use, leaving the teeth more susceptible to decay and sensitivity.
The researchers tested 13 different sports drinks and nine different energy drinks for titratable acidity, pH and fluoride of each of the different drinks. Then they submerged samples of human tooth enamel in six drinks and found both types caused damage, with the energy drinks causing twice as much damage as the sports drinks.
There is a double whammy. Not only are the drinks highly acidic, but the sugar from the energy and sports drinks becomes food for bacteria in your mouth, which generates more teeth-damaging acid.
Now, of course, drinking the drinks is different than submerging your teeth in them for 15 minutes. And there are a few ways you can mitigate the potential for damage:
- Drink water along with your sports or energy drink. This will help wash away the acid covering your teeth and increase saliva production to help protect your enamel.
- Don’t brush your teeth immediately after consuming the drinks, because the drinks have softened your enamel. Wait one hour and make sure you don’t over brush.
- Drink your drink through a straw. This reduces the contact of the drink with your teeth.
- Just drink water. Sports drinks are expensive and contain a lot of calories and acid you don’t need. Water is always better.