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Energy and Sports Drinks Can Erode Tooth Enamel

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Energy drinks and sports drinks are becoming more and more popular particularly with young adults and teenagers.

Ironically, many have exchanged their sodas, consuming these beverages to enhance their physical performance and fitness, with the belief that they are healthier drinks.

Unfortunately sports and energy drinks are bad for dental health. The high levels of acidity in these drinks can cause damage to the enamel of the young people's teeth.

The May/June 2012 edition of General Dentistry reported on a study led by Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH, director of the community and preventive dentistry program at Southern Illiniois University in Edwardsville.

General Dentistry is the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry.

According to the study, 30-50 percent of adolescents in the United States are regularly drinking energy drinks, and 62 percent of teenagers are drinking sports drinks.

The study assessed the titratable acidity, pH and fluoride levels of nine energy drinks and 13 sports drinks.

Samples of tooth enamel were placed in the drinks for 15 minutes, then into artificial saliva for two hours. This was repeated for five days, four times per day.

After five days, damage began to show. The energy drinks were seen to cause twice as much damage as sports drinks.

Erosion that occurs in tooth enamel by these drinks cannot be reversed. Teeth are more vulnerable to cavities and decay. Teeth can also become more sensitive to cold.

Dr. Jennifer Bone, DDs, MAGD, as spokesperson for AGD, advised that people not consume these types of drinks on a regular basis.

She said that sugar-free gum after drinking will increase the amount of saliva in the mouth. This helps to correct the mouth's acidity levels. Rinsing with water will have similar effects.

Don't assume that brushing your teeth right after an energy or sports drink is a good idea. In actuality, it's better to wait an hour or more to brush. Brushing too soon can make the erosion worse by spreading the acid on the teeth.

Dr. David Kratz, director of the Yale Prevention Center said that sugar is converted to acid by bacteria. The sugar does not directly do damage, but rather the damage results from being bathed in acid.

The rehydration sports drinks provide may help endurance athletes and people doing intense workouts. But Katz said that other people are not really benefitting from them anyway.

Instead, he recommended getting better sleep and maintaining good health in general.

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