Fact: Sugary drinks damage teeth.
We can’t imagine that this is shocking news. You know that sugar can lead to tooth decay, and everyone from dentists to parents have warned you about it.
But what about energy drinks? Many energy drinks highlight low-to-no sugar, so they must be safer to drink, right?
Energy drinks, even if they are sugar-free, are no better than soda.
Why Are Energy Drinks So Bad?
A common ingredient listed in high quantities in most energy drinks on the market is citric acid. Citric acid is a preservative that helps enhance flavor and lengthens shelf life — and it is also incredibly damaging to your teeth. Unlike sugar, which causes bacterial growth, citric acid goes straight to the teeth and strips the enamel. Teeth with damaged or thin enamel lining are more prone to cavities, gum disease, and decay.
A study comparing the impact of energy drinks on teeth found that the acidity levels in energy drinks vs. sports drinks and soda were twice as high. The acidity causes the pH balance in your mouth to plummet to as low as 2 on the pH scale (healthy oral pH balance should be 6.8-7). Even worse, once the pH balance is lowered, it can take your body up to 30 minutes to go back to its normal level. With every sip of your energy drink, your teeth are basically being bathed in acid. Talk about a sucker punch to your teeth!
How Do I Safeguard Against Damage?
Dentally speaking, occasional energy drink consumption may be safe. However, there are some safeguards you should implement to avoid painful and potentially long-lasting dental damage:
- Limit your energy drink intake to 1-2 per week.
- Brush your teeth an hour after drinking (don’t brush any sooner as this could cause more harm while the enamel is unprotected and even spread the acid around your mouth even further).
- Use a straw to lessen direct contact with your teeth.
- Finish your energy drinks within 30 minutes of opening, rather than sipping over an extended period of time.
- Sip water in between gulps to help wash out the energy drink.
- Visit your dentist twice per year for regular cleanings.
The Bottom Line
Dental experts across the board agree that regular consumption of energy drinks can cause significant damage to your teeth. The best thing you can do for your teeth is remove all energy drinks from your life. However, if that feels too difficult for you, try gradually cutting down the number of energy drinks you consume. A dental practitioner can quickly notice signs of dental erosion and damage, so making your bi-annual dental checkup a priority is incredibly important for preventing irreversible dental damage.