Energy drinks are the newest craze. You can’t walk into a gas station or grocery store without seeing an entire cooler (or sometimes several) devoted to them. They claim to have vitamins and other compounds that can give you the pick-me-up you need when your energy starts to flag. Regardless of whether their ability to provide energy is true or not, there is one effect energy drinks definitely have on a person – they wear away your enamel.
What is citric acid?
Citric acid is a preservative and flavor enhancer that you find in many different things; fruit juice, soda, sports drinks, etc. In energy drinks, it is found in much greater quantities, which is where the problem lies. Citric acid will eat away tooth enamel, which is what protects your teeth from decay. And tooth enamel does not grow back. Once it’s gone, that’s it. Not only does it affect enamel, it can also cause kidney stones and lead to the loss of bone mass: especially since people are drinking more energy drinks and less milk.
In order to measure the effects of citric acid on teeth, researchers took some sliced up molars and exposed them to a variety of energy and sports drinks for 15 minutes. Then artificial saliva for two hours. They repeated the process four times a day over the course of five days. They looked at pH, fluoride levels,and titratable acidity. Titratable acidity is, in a nutshell, how long it takes saliva to neutralize acid in the mouth. Although both types of drink removed enamel, they found that energy drinks did far more damage than the sports drinks. The American Beverage Association claims, “It is irresponsible to blame foods, beverages or any other single factor for enamel loss and tooth decay (dental caries or cavities).” And they go on to say that other factors such as a person’s dental hygiene behavior, lifestyle, diet, and genetic makeup, contribute to cavities on a case-by-case basis.
Regardless, the effect that energy drinks have on tooth enamel is astounding. It’s best to avoid them altogether, especially teenagers. A good night’s sleep will be much better for them than an energy drink. The damage from the citric acid, caffeine, and sugar on a growing body is just not worth it. If you are concerned about your or your child’s dental health due to energy drink consumption, call Dr. Chauvin’s office to set up an appointment.