Energy drinks harm your teeth

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Energy drinks harm your teeth

Many of us have become used to reaching for an energy drink after a long day (or on the heels of a short night) to squeeze a few more productive hours out of one's body. These drinks are particularly popular among younger people and many of them consumer more than just one can per day. Though these energy drinks work quite well temporarily, as their name implies, more and more reports about their potentially destructive effect on dental enamel have started surfacing. This is due to their acid content which attacks the surface areas of the teeth. As a result, energy drinks have replaced Coke as "Dental Enemy Number 1". But how much of these horror stories is actually true? Let's find out!

Are energy drinks really so terribly harmful for teeth?

In general, scientific research studies have concluded that acidic drinks can have fairly detrimental effects on dental enamel. Since most energy and sports drinks contain significant amounts of acid, they fall into the highest risk category. This is especially true when one slurps the drink so the liquid passes in between one's teeth. The findings of several WHO studies serve as clear proof for the grave consequences of acidic and sugary drinks on the teeth. Specifically, researchers concluded that daily consumption of such drinks can not only cause damage to teeth but can also elevate blood pressure and lead to so-called sugar crashes. As a result, several European countries have already implemented age-based bans on energy drinks (e.g., only 14 years and older). 

Various energy drinks in a supermarket freezer

How much damage can energy drinks cause inside the mouth?

Firstly, it is important to state that even those energy drinks that do not contain sugar can be as harmful for teeth as those that do contain sugar. This is the case because the acid content is very high for both. Therefore, remember to not fall for solely sugar-focused to-good-to-be-true ads about new kinds of energy drinks!  

With that said, it is indeed true that sugary energy drinks cause the most damage in the form of tooth decay and that, in cases of elevated consumption (multiple drinks per day) they can have much worse and lasting consequences that may include the rotting of gum lines and the tongue. As already mentioned, sugar is only one cause for the problem. Additional substances that can lead to dental problems are the many chemical ingredients in energy drinks like sodium carbonate and multiple types of vitamin B. So don't forget to check the product label prior to any drink purchase in the future.

Tongue damage after excessive energy drink consumption
How can one neutralize the harmful effects of energy drinks?
Despite all of the fear mongering regarding the often fatal impact of energy drinks on teeth, not all is lost. Only a few relatively small behavioral changes can effectively halt the destruction of dental enamel by acidic drinks: 
  • Do not sip energy drinks, suck on the drink cans, or slurp them through your teeth 
  • Opt for drinks containing casein or calcium (both prevent acid attacks)
  • After the consumption of sweet or sour foods (and drinks) wait for a while before brushing your teeth to give the saliva sufficient time to neutralize acids and to remineralize the dental enamel
  • After every meal, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water to increase the pH value in order to provide for additional protection for your teeth
And because this final point is so important, let's repeat it here: water is the by far best liquid for rinsing our your mouth and it can also serve as the healthiest and cheapest sports drink at the same time.
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