Why "Energy Drinks" Won't Leave You Smiling

Health Alert 273

Dear Subscriber:

Do you drink those sports drinks thinking you’re doing something good for your body? What you may not realize is these “healthy drinks” do more harm to your teeth than soda!

There is a health saboteur hiding in these drinks. It’s now in most of America’s popular drinks. Today, I’ll expose the enemy and show you how to beat it.

* The Real Cause of Tooth Decay *

There’s no question, sugar is bad for tooth enamel. But there’s something even worse… ACIDS. Almost all commercial drinks, from colas to energy and sports drinks (including sugar-free ones), have acids added to them – such as phosphoric acid, citric acid, malic acid and tartaric acid.1 The pH is the standard way of measuring acidity. These acids lower the normal pH in your mouth. An acidic mouth makes it easy for the bacteria that cause cavities to thrive and multiply.

Researchers from the University of Maryland studied the effect of some of the most popular drinks on tooth enamel. They soaked pieces of tooth enamel from cavity-free molars in a variety of popular drinks for 14 days (336 hours). This is comparable to about 13 years of normal beverage consumption. Energy drinks, sports drinks and lemonade caused the most damage. In fact, the damage these drinks caused to tooth enamel was 3-11 times greater than colas.2 These drinks actually dissolved tooth enamel. And once your enamel is gone… it’s gone for good.

Loss of tooth enamel makes teeth more susceptible to ca

vities. And it can make your teeth more sensitive – especially to hot and cold.

Americans drank more than 53 gallons of soft drinks, including sports drinks, per person in 2000. This is more than all other beverages. One in every 4 beverages consumed is a soft drink. Our consumption of these drinks has increased 500% over the last 50 years.3 And it’s keeping our dentists busy.

Would you like a nice tall glass of battery acid? Do you think that would be good for your teeth? If you’re drinking some of America’s most popular beverages, what you’re doing to your teeth is ALMOST as bad. The following chart shows you how acidic your favorite drink is…

ACID AMOUNT Low Number=Bad for Teeth SUGAR AMOUNT Per 12 ounces
Pure water 7.00 (neutral) 0.0
Diet Coke 3.39 0.0
Gatorade 2.95 3.3 tsp.
Hawaiian Punch 2.82 10.2 tsp.
Coca Cola 2.53 9.3 tsp.
Battery Acid 1.00 (yikes) 0.0

(Adapted from University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, 2000)4

The University of Maryland found the drinks that dissolved the most enamel are: KMX sports drink, Snapple lemonade, Red Bull, Gatorade lemon-lime, Powerade Arctic Shatter, Arizona Iced Tea, Fanta Orange, and finally Pepsi and Coca Cola. But consider this…

KMX sports drink caused 10 times more damage to enamel than Coke!

Keep Your Enamel

If you still want to continue to drink these things, here are some tips to minimize the damage:

  • Don’t hold or ‘swish’ soft drinks or sports drinks around in your mouth. The more you minimize contact with your teeth – the better.

  • Use a straw when possible. This will also minimize the beverage’s exposure to your teeth.

  • Drink water or rinse your mouth with water. It will help wash the sugar and acid away from your teeth. Water will also help increase saliva flow and will help combat the acid from creating bacteria that causes cavities.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

1 American Dental Association News Update, Mar 7, 2005

2 Von Fraunhofer, J Anthony PhD, Rogers, Matthew M DDS, “Effects of sports drinks and other beverages on dental enamel,” General Dentistry, Jan/Feb, 2005, Vol 54, No 1:28-31

3 Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2000

4 “Stop the pop! How to reduce decay”, Northwest Dentistry, Vol 80, No 2