We all know soda is bad for our teeth. You may have even done one of those experiments in third grade where you place a baby tooth in Coke overnight and witness the horrifying consequences. Researchers have done a similar experiment with popular fitness drinks and with startling results. According to a study published in the AGD’s journal General Dentistry, energy drinks can cause 3 to 11 times more enamel erosion than soft drinks.
Here’s what went down:
Scientists immersed cavity-free teeth in a variety of popular beverages and let them fester for 14 days, which equals about 13 years of normal beverage consumption. As you can imagine, all the beverages tested caused pretty significant damage to the tooth enamel, but certain players stepped up to the plate and really knocked it out of the park. In order of ferocity:
Were the results what you expected? If you’re like most dental-conscious people, you probably would have grabbed a Vitamin Water over a Coca-Cola any day. Alas! Fitness waters, energy drinks, and sports beverages actually contain more additives and organic acids that advance tooth erosion. These organic acids are especially damaging because of their ability to breakdown calcium, which is an essential ingredient for strong teeth and gums.
In addition to tooth decay, these drinks can contribute to staining and hypersensitivity caused by softened tooth enamel. To minimize the impact these drinks have on your teeth, limit your intake, drink with a straw when possible, and rinse your mouth out with water after drinking sugary or acidic beverages. Sipping your Gatorade throughout the day may exacerbate the problem, since you’re exposing your mouth repeatedly to teeth-eating acids.
One more thing…
Don’t brush your teeth! WHAAATTT??? You exclaim, obviously shocked that dental experts would ever give you advice that contradicts everything you’ve come to believe about oral hygiene. Settle down. We’re not saying don’t brush your teeth ever – just don’t brush them promptly after chugging your breakfast of Red Bull and Life Water. The abrasives in toothpaste can actually cause more damage because of the softened state of your acid-exposed tooth enamel. Wait at least 45 minutes before brushing and consider rinsing with water to flush away excess sugars.
If you’re concerned about tooth decay, stains, or sensitivity, talk to your dentist. Certain pro-active dental treatments and oral hygiene products can help strengthen tooth enamel and prevent bacteria from scoring points on the home team (your mouth).