The Specialist

Energy drinks damage your teeth

Today, energy drinks are quite popular. They are considered an alternative to sodas, yet they, too, contain a high amount of sugar. What you may not know is that the sugar and acid content in energy drinks can cause severe damage on the enamel.

In this column, we will discuss energy drinks and their effect on your oral health.

The makers of energy drinks promote their ability to enhance physical performance, mental alertness and increased energy levels. In the US and Canada, retail sales in 2022 are expected to hit over $1 billion. The most popular of the energy drinks are said to be highly fortified with vitamins, minerals and energy boosters. Two well-known international brands are Red Bull and Monster.

The active ingredients in energy drinks are taurine – a dietary supplement; caffeine – a stimulant; guarana – a stimulant, and approximately 11 grams of sugar.

Energy drinks stress your oral health because of the high sugar and acid content. Bacteria naturally present in the mouth consumes sugar then produces waste. The waste products given off are very acidic. The acid then causes a weakening of the outer layer of the enamel resulting in tooth decay and sensitivity. The more sugar present, the more acid produced by the bacteria. This action can cause irreversible damage to tooth enamel. Also, the high degree of stimulants in energy drinks causes central nervous system hyperactivity resulting in excessive teeth grinding and teeth fractures.

Natural alternatives to energy drinks are green tea (some contain natural caffeine), green juices, and smoothies (parsley, kale and spinach). A simple and natural way to boost your metabolic processes is to drink lots of water.

Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. It is much harder than bone, however this very tenacious substance cannot withstand the constant bathing of these highly acidic drinks. You see, the saliva has a pH of 6.8 or 7, which is considered neutral. A typical energy drink can decrease your saliva’s pH down to two on the pH scale. It takes the body approximately 30 minutes to stabilize the saliva back to a normal pH.

Since they appear healthier, compared to sodas, consuming energy drinks tends to give a false sense of security. When you choose to enjoy any high sugar or acidic drinks, you should be mindful of your unique condition. Individual susceptibility to both dental cavities and tooth erosion varies depending on a person’s dental hygiene, lifestyle, total diet and genetic make-up.

We see the negative effects first hand of energy drinks in dental offices across The Bahamas. In children, we see tooth decay commonly associated with fruit juices and sodas. However, in adults, the common causes are sodas and energy drinks.

Therefore, these drinks should be consumed in moderation. I would suggest rinsing with plain water after consumption. Of course, good general oral habits will go a long way in preserving your dentition. Be aware of these damaging side effects to maintain a healthy smile for a lifetime. While in many ways, sports drinks are considered a better alternative to sodas, that is not the case when it comes to oral health.

Dr. Kendal V. O. Major is Founder and CEO of Center for Specialized Dentistry which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in Nassau and Freeport. He is the first Bahamian Specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He also is a certified Fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, Nassau at (242)325-5165 or kmajor@csddentistry.com

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