Many people, especially teens and young adults, turn to energy drinks as a little pick-me-up or alternative to coffee. About 30 to 50% of teenagers and young people are estimated to consume energy drinks on a regular basis.
But it stands to reason energy drinks can’t be nearly as bad as soda because they don’t contain as much sugar, right? We hear that a lot at our family dentistry practice in Cincinnati.
Think again. One study published in General Dentistry cautions against the high amount of citric acid contained in most drinks because it can strip the enamel off your teeth.
And once enamel is gone, your teeth are more prone to cavities and decay.
The Danger of Citric Acid to Dental Health
Citric acid is a preservative that enhances flavor and shelf life. It’s contained in fruit juices like lemon or lime juice, but is in even higher concentrations in many energy drinks.
“We are well aware of the damage that sugar does in the mouth and in the whole body — the role it can play in obesity, diabetes, etc,” says Poonam Jain, an associate professor in the School of Dental Medicine at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, and the lead author of the study, told NPR. “But the average consumer is not very well aware that acid does all kinds of damage, too.”
A Word from Unhealthy Sponsors
The American Beverage Industry has pushed back against the notion that what you drink can affect your teeth, but they don’t practice family dentistry. They sell sodas, energy drinks, and other beverages that may be adverse to your dental health.
“It is irresponsible to blame foods, beverages or any other single factor for enamel loss and tooth decay (dental caries or cavities),” the ABA said in a statement responding to Jain’s paper. “Science tells us that individual susceptibility to both dental cavities and tooth erosion varies depending on a person’s dental hygiene behavior, lifestyle, total diet and genetic makeup.”
Signs Your Tooth Enamel May be Eroded:
- Sensitive teeth
- Teeth turning yellow
- Teeth developing transparent tips
- Teeth developing cracks or dents
If you’ve experienced any of these effects, talk to your Cincinnati dentist. It may be time to look at your diet and the beverages you consume.
Tips to Preserve Your Enamel
If you do consume energy drinks, there are things you can do to minimize any potential damage to your enamel. First, drink lots of water following consumption of energy drinks — ideally 1 or 2 glasses immediately afterwards. It’s really a good idea to drink water after drinking any beverage that’s not water. It’s even a good idea to drink water after meals to rinse away any food particles.
Brush your teeth regularly at least twice a day for 2 minute sessions. It’s a good idea to do so after consuming energy drinks, but always wait at least 20 minutes after eating or drinking anything to avoid damaging the enamel.