Nutrition

What Do Energy Drinks Do to Your Teeth? (Mistakes You Need to Avoid)

What do energy drinks do to your teeth?

At your last visit to the dentist, you were warned that soda damages your teeth. So, guess what? You decided to give up soda for a healthier option…energy drinks. Whoa! Wait a minute. What you don’t realize is the fact that energy drinks can be far worse for your teeth than soda. What do energy drinks do to your teeth? I will explain everything you need to know and mistakes you need to avoid when consuming energy drinks.

What do energy drinks do to your teeth?Damage to Tooth Enamel

The most common element of an energy drink is sugar. We all know how damaging sugar can be to tooth enamel and how sugar contributes to tooth decay. But, an even more concerning ingredient in energy drinks is citric acid. While sugar causes decay by creating acids, citric acid is in ready form to ruin your enamel.

In a study published in the International Journal of Chemical Studies the level of citric acid was determined for different drinks. The study compared the concentration of citric acid in 27 different samples. The results showed the highest concentration was found in energy drinks (7.3 g/L) compared to juice drinks (2.79 g/L) and the lowest concentration being soft drinks (1.76 g/L).

A normal pH level in the mouth is 6.8-7. Acid in energy drinks can cause the pH in your mouth to drop to as low as 2. This is close to battery acid which has a pH of 1. Also, a concerning fact is that every time you take a sip of an energy drink, it takes your mouth up to a half an hour to return to a normal pH. If you are constantly sipping on an energy drink throughout the day, you are essentially giving your teeth an acid bath with each sip.

Use the Right Toothpaste

Acid erosion is the condition that occurs from recurring exposures to acid. According to Wikipedia; “Acid erosion is a type of tooth wear. It is defined as the irreversible loss of tooth structure due to chemical dissolution by acids not of bacterial origin.”

Studies conclude that by using a toothpaste containing stannous fluoride, you will add substantial protection to your teeth from acid erosion. How does stannous fluoride help protect your teeth? As a dental hygienist, I can tell you that a toothpaste containing stannous fluoride will give you superior benefits over other toothpastes. We are expected to help our patients choose the products that will provide the best oral health outcomes.

That is why this toothpaste is recommended more often than others for dental health. The other options of fluoride available in toothpastes are sodium fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate.

There are several toothpastes to choose from that contain stannous fluoride. However, dental professionals most frequently recommend Colgate Total SF toothpaste when helping their patients find the most effective toothpaste for their needs. You can read more about the superior tartar controlling properties of Colgate Total SF along with how it maintains oral health.

Don’t make the mistake of choosing an abrasive toothpaste such as a whitening toothpaste. These toothpastes do not actually change the shade of your enamel and can be too harsh. Over time, you can wear away the protective outer enamel covering of your teeth if you use a toothpaste that is too abrasive.

Whitening toothpastes most often work by removing surface stains such as coffee, tea and tobacco. This comes with the price of wearing away your enamel and can actually make your teeth appear darker over time. This happens when the enamel wears thin and the underlying tooth structure called dentin (which is a darker yellowish-brown color) shines through.

Colgate Total has versions of its toothpaste promoting whitening properties. These products use a mild abrasive to remove surface stains that is not damaging to your enamel. If you truly want to whiten or change the shade of your enamel you will want to use a whitening product that will bleach your teeth that is recommended by dental professionals.

More Research to Consider…

According to an article in PubMed.gov, research was conducted to determine the benefits of using a stannous fluoride toothpaste versus another containing other types of fluoride. Stannous fluoride toothpastes will provide the best protection against erosion from acids in the diet. Not only will it protect against erosive wear, it works to protect against tooth sensitivity, cavities, plaque, bad breath, gingivitis and gum disease.

This article found that when fluoride is combined with stannous ions, (stannous fluoride) it creates a surface coating that is acid-resistant. When the stannous fluoride formulation was applied, the tooth surface became more resistant to demineralization from acids. The mechanism of action is due to the stannous fluoride not only being incorporated on the tooth surface, but also into the enamel and dentin.

Another recent meta-analysis study included 3 studies on dental cavities, eight studies on dental erosion and 11 on dentin hypersensitivity (sensitive teeth). In seven of the eight studies, the anti-erosive potential was shown to be greater with the use of a stannous fluoride product.

What do energy drinks do to your teeth?More Protection From Energy Drinks

The very best thing that you can do to protect your teeth from the damage of energy drinks is to stop consuming them altogether. I understand this may be a hard habit to break. You may have become dependent on the “quick fix” you get from the combination of sugar and caffeine.

If quitting the habit of consuming energy drinks is not an option for you, then consider what you can do to lessen the damage you are doing to your teeth when you consume them. For starters, consume an energy drink all in one sitting versus sipping on one throughout the day.

By drinking an energy drink all at once, you are lowering the pH of your mouth only one time. By contrast, if you are constantly sipping on or taking intermittent drinks, you lower the pH of your mouth each time you take a drink. Every time this happens, it takes your mouth 20 minutes to a half hour to recover by returning the pH of your mouth to normal. Within this time frame, you are at risk of dental decay and acid eroding away your enamel.

Another option would be to rinse with water after consuming an energy drink. This will dilute the acid lingering in your mouth and help prevent the acid attack on your enamel. Swishing with an over the counter fluoride rinse will achieve the same results.

Whatever you do, do not make the mistake of brushing your teeth following consumption of an energy drink. Your enamel is in a softened state and is prone to even more wear if you choose to brush following this acid exposure. Wait at least 30 minutes following an acid attack to brush to prevent further acid erosion wear on your teeth.

The Takeaway

Being aware of how acidic energy drinks are, you should do everything you can to protect your precious tooth enamel. Because, once it’s gone, it’s gone! There is no way to regenerate your enamel. You can only take steps to prevent its dissolution to begin with.

By using the most enamel protective toothpaste, Colgate Total toothpaste with stannous fluoride, you are taking a great precaution against acid erosion from energy drink consumption. Avoiding mistakes like using an abrasive toothpaste, brushing too soon after an acid attack, and avoiding frequent acid attacks from sipping an energy drink will also help prevent acid erosion of your enamel.

Please consider breaking the energy drink consumption habit for your overall health…not just the health of your teeth. If it’s not possible, as a dental health professional, I urge you to take the necessary steps to prevent the wearing away of your enamel. Feel free to leave your questions and comments below and I would be happy to help.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information that I provide on my website is not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Care and investigation should always be sought from an appropriate health care provider before using any new or recommended products. I have created this site as a way to share information and experiences.

4 comments

  1. Stephanie

    Woah! That comparison of citric acid almost having the same pH level battery acid is quite alarming. Sure, soda is extremely bad for your teeth as well as your overall health but energy drinks also have so many other dangers for a person. There are so many things to unwrap and consider before taking that sip of something that can be crucial for your health. Also, thank you for taking the time to research all of your findings and sharing it with us; I really appreciate that. 

    1. Michelle Mussehl, RDH

      Stephanie,

      You are correct, energy drinks can also be harmful to your overall health…not just the health of your teeth. What’s worse is energy drinks are being promoted to younger people. Enamel damage can happen immediately or it can happen over time. This means that enamel erosion from acid exposure may happen slowly making it hard to notice for those who are young. When energy drinks are routinely consumed, it is important to remember to visit your dental professional regularly. They can evaluate the possible damage energy drinks are doing to your teeth.

      Michelle

  2. glenn

    Wow! Thanks so much for the information. I drink “BANG” energy drinks a couple of times a week. They don’t have sugar but I’m sure they are still destructive for my teeth. Also, I use Crest toothpaste that “whitens”. I would say my teeth are kind of an off-white. They are certainly not a brilliant white. Your point in your article about what toothpastes that ‘whiten’ do to actually diminish the whiteness is a revelation for me. I’m going to go tomorrow and get some of the Colgate Total SF toothpaste and use that from now on. Thank you so much for the super helpful information you included in your article!

    1. Michelle Mussehl, RDH

      Glenn,

      So glad you found this article informational. You are right, the sugar-free versions of energy drinks are just as damaging to your teeth. Even though they do not contain sugar, there is an alarming amount of citric acid along with phosphoric acid in these beverages. Check out a related article about recommended teeth whitening products.

      Michelle

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