Many people think that energy drinks are healthier alternatives to soft drinks. But that could not be further from the truth. If you read about the harmful effects of energy drinks, you will notice a pattern.
But are these energy drinks also bad for your teeth? Yes, energy drinks are bad for your teeth because they contain a lot of sugar and have a low pH value. This promotes erosion of tooth enamel. Eroded enamel in turn increases the risk of cavities and other dental problems.
In this article we will further investigate how bad energy drinks are for your teeth and how you can limit the damage.
Acidity and high sugar levels in energy drinks
The thing that’s common with all energy drinks is the presence of sugar and high amounts of caffeine.
A standard energy drink will have up to eight teaspoons of sugar. Do you know what that means for your teeth? Well, having sugar in the mouth creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. And these microorganisms work on the sugar, breaking it down and turning it into an acid.
So, if you ever thought that sugar causes cavities, you are wrong. It is the creation of the environment for which the sugar is to blame. Everything else takes place owing to the presence of the acid, which then breaks down the teeth.
The pH of energy drinks is quite low owing to their high acidity. So, while you are swishing the drink in your mouth, you are enjoying an acid mouthwash.
All you are doing is threatening the health of your teeth. One time will not hurt. But if you keep up with energy drink consumption, it is only a matter of time before your teeth start to show the effects.
You see, the sugar creates an acidic environment, paving the way for tooth decay. And the acidity that is already present in these drinks eats away at the enamel.
It gets even worse for young people whose teeth are not fully mature. Their enamels are more vulnerable to erosion, given their fragility. The enamel ends up softening, and that’s when you hear people talking about having sensitive teeth. The reason is that they eroded or weakened their line of defense.
Energy drink effects on teeth
Your teeth can wear out in three ways: erosion, abrasion, and attrition. Attrition takes place when you constantly grind on your teeth. Abrasion, on the other hand, takes place when you are too rough with your teeth. And the other reason is erosion, which can result from the consumption of energy drinks.
Erosion owes to acids eating away at the enamel, thus destroying it. And you know what the sad part about this condition is? It is irreversible.
— Darlene Cox (@darlenecox) December 5, 2017
That means that once the acids have eroded the enamel, nothing can bring it back. It could even be worse than cavities. Thus, your best bet lies in ensuring you preserve what is left.
What happens to your teeth when erosion takes place? Well, there are many ways this could play out. In the first instance, your enamel loses its hardness, which is highly likely in young people. Their teeth are not yet fully developed and are thus at risk of softening.
With softened enamel, you do not have much of a fighting chance against acidity. The other instance involves breaking down the enamel by de-mineralizing it. When this happens, the enamel is not as strong as it should be. That leaves you vulnerable to wear owing to attrition or other pressures. In this case, a simple knock can crack the teeth or worse.
Tooth sensitivity also occurs when the enamel undergoes some form of erosion. When this happens, you react sharply to touch, heat, cold and other sensations. And you have a hard time eating things that are highly variant in temperature. You can also find it hard to eat sugary things.
When the erosion occurs over a long time, there is a high likelihood that the internal enamel could dissolve. And when this happens, you would need tooth restoration. It would cost you a pretty dime, owing to a situation you could have avoided.
And finally, there is the aspect of a root canal. You see, erosion does not stop at the enamel. If you keep eating and drinking acidic foods, the erosion continues. And in some cases, it could reach the dental nerve. You would have no choice but to get a root canal or lose the tooth. And replacing a lost tooth can be expensive.
How to prevent damage to teeth from energy drinks
There are some ways you can limit the damage to your teeth from energy drinks:
- The first option would be to quit taking too many sugary things. While energy drinks account for high risk, other foods also come into play. An acidic fruit like lemon could have the same devastating effects. Anything you put in your mouth may work to erode your teeth, which is pretty scary.
- Consume energy drinks through a straw. You may have seen people drinking wine and other drinks using a straw. Some of them wish to protect their teeth from staining. And others do it to avoid the acidity. As long as the drink does not touch the teeth, you will be safe.
- Instead of using energy drinks, you can work on your diet. If you have been feeling tired or need a boost in energy, there are healthy alternatives. These include protein shakes and smoothies. They have a ton of healthy ingredients and lack the adverse effects associated with energy drinks.
- Enjoy your energy drink at the end of a big meal. The saliva in your mouth works in restoring neutrality as it re-mineralizes the enamel. That way, the adverse effects will be minimal to none. When you sleep, saliva production reduces. That means that any re-mineralizing will slow down during this time. It is thus best that you avoid ingesting any energy drinks around bedtime.
- Wait thirty minutes before or after taking an energy drink to brush your teeth. Brushing your teeth only aggravates the situation and can lead to more erosion. It is also recommended that you rinse your mouth with plain water before brushing. That will get rid of the acidity. You can also drink milk or take non-sugary dairy products to neutralize the acidity.
Energy drinks have a range of adverse effects on consumers globally, including their cardiovascular, renal, and neurological health. Dental health is also at risk, most notably enamel erosion. It can happen to anyone, so long as you frequently consume energy drinks.
If you fall into this category, you should visit the dentist regularly as well as stick to a strict dental hygiene routine. That way, you can catch any signs of erosion from the onset, allowing you to deal with it fast.
The best way to reduce the chances of erosion would be to steer clear of energy drinks in entirety. But where this is not possible, you can work with some moderation.