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Gulping energy drinks throughout tennis matches can be bad for your teeth

May 9th, 2012
Staff writer / LifeApps Media

Energy drinks and sports drinks are almost always within easy reach at tennis courts to refresh and cool players before, during and after matches. But too many energy drinks can permanently damage teeth, dentists have warned.

A report in the May/June issue of the journal General Dentistry, found that some people, particularly adolescents, are experiencing permanent damage to tooth enamel from exposure to the acids in sports drinks. The enamel is the glossy outer layer of the tooth. When it erodes, the teeth become overly sensitive, prone to cavities, and more likely to decay.

 “Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are ‘better’ for them than soda,” said Poonam Jain, the lead author of the study. “Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid.”

In a sample of 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks, researchers found acidity levels can vary between brands of beverages and flavors of the same brand.  In the study, they immersed samples of human teeth in each beverage sample for 15 minutes followed by a two-hour bath in human saliva. The cycle was repeated four times a day for five days.

 “This type of testing simulates the same exposure that a large proportion of American teens and young adults are subjecting their teeth to on a regular basis when they drink one of these beverages every few hours,” Jain said.

The damage to enamel was evident after only five days of exposure to sports or energy drinks, although energy drinks showed a significantly greater potential to damage teeth than sports drinks. In fact, the authors found that energy drinks caused twice as much damage to teeth as sports drinks.

According to the study, between 30 to 50 percent of U.S. teens consume energy drinks, and as many as 62 percent consuming at least one sports drink per day.

People should minimize their intake of energy and sports drinks, experts said. An alternative is to chew sugar-free gum or rinse the mouth with water after consuming a sports or energy drink. In addition, wait at least an hour to brush your teeth after consuming sports and energy drinks to avoid spreading acid onto the tooth surfaces.

More tips to maintain health teen can be found at the Academy of General Dentistry’s website