Acidic Beverages and Tooth Decay

The dental health of young people continues to be a hot topic in the news as shocking numbers of children are turning up with early signs of tooth decay.  There have been a number of fingers pointed to different culprits, and yet another report has been released, this time putting sports and energy drinks in the spotlight.  The Medical News Today, article, “Sports & Energy Drinks Damage Teeth,” discusses the findings of the study, which were published in the May/June 2012 issue of General Dentistry.

Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH, and lead author of the article, claims that young adults are targeted by advertisers of these products and truly believe that their sports performance will improve by consuming the high acid, sugary beverages.  The research examined acidity levels in thirteen different drinks and found that across brands, and even flavors of the same brand, levels were varied.  The study consisted of immersing samples of tooth enamel in each drink for approximately 15 minutes before placing them in artificial saliva for two hours.  This pattern was repeated four times a day and was meant to simulate consuming the same number of sports drinks per day.  The teeth were stored in artificial saliva at all other times.  Damage to the enamel was observed after just five days of trials, with energy drinks causing nearly twice the amount of damage as sports drinks.  Statistics show that about 50% of teenagers across the country consume energy drinks and approximately 62% admit to drinking at least one sports beverage a day.

Acid levels in these types of drinks are causing the erosion of tooth enamel, as shown in the study.  Once the hard, protective surface is compromised, the softer dentine, which lies beneath, can decay quite easily.  Most kids believe that sports and energy drinks are better for them than soda, and they just don’t know the damage that they are doing to their teeth.  Education for young adults and parents alike is the key to good oral health.

Written by Mark Paulsort

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