Many young adults regularly use sports and energy drinks as a pick me up but may be unaware they contain high levels of both sugar and acid. Energy drinks additionally contain high levels of caffeine. Even diet or ‘zero’ options, as well as flavoured water varieties, contain plenty of tooth-eroding acids.
Acidic drinks are the main contributor to tooth erosion where the hard outer enamel layer of teeth is irreversibly dissolved away, while sugar attacks the teeth causing decay. Caffeine is a diuretic and leads to dehydration and reduced saliva production.
During exercise the body becomes dehydrated, and there is a decline in the amount of protective saliva that produced. A lack of saliva means that teeth are even more vulnerable to erosion during and after exercise, when most sports drinks are consumed. The slow sipping method of consumption is also harmful as the prolonged exposure means the mouth doesn’t have a chance to catch up and negate the acidic or sugar attack. Once the enamel of the tooth wears away, it doesn’t grow back, and teeth can become sensitive as the soft inner layer of dentine is now exposed. Sometimes a filling is necessary to cover the soft dentine and reduce discomfort.
You can lower the risk of developing dental erosion by minimising the consumption of sports, soft and energy drinks!
Research has suggested that consumption of sports drinks may not be necessary for daily exercise and is more useful for endurance activities or elite athletes. If you are exercising and do want to drink sports drinks, following each sip with water can help to dilute the acid attack.