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Sports & Energy Drinks Offer Acid Baths for Your Teeth

Posted Jul 19 2012 10:07pm

If you are an active person, you have probably consumed your share of sports and energy drinks. Although sports drinks were first introduced in the 1960’s, the popularity of energy drinks has blossomed over the last 15 years since Red Bull hit the American market. In spite of all of their touted benefits, however, new research suggests that these drinks can literally bathe your teeth in acid. Silicon Valley dentist Dr. Randall LaFrom describes the damage that sports and energy drinks can wreak upon your oral health.

The Difference Between Sports & Energy Drinks

Recognition of sports drinks began in the late 1960’s, when the University of Florida’s athletic team began to realize that their athletic performances were significantly improved by consuming a beverage that contained carbohydrates and electrolytes. The mascot and collective nickname of the university’s sports teams, the gator, was honored by naming the drink Gatorade. Energy drinks gained popularity with the introduction of Red Bull, first in Austria in 1987, and then in America in 1997. The purpose of sports drinks, which contain carbohydrates and electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium, is to prevent dehydration and replace the carbs and electrolytes lost during vigorous physical activity. Energy drinks contain excessive and unregulated amounts of caffeine as well as carbohydrates, and are intended to improve energy, stamina, concentration, and athletic performance. Approximately 30-50% of young adults in the US consume energy drinks, and as much as 62% drink at least one sports drink per day.

Studying the Dental Effects of Sports & Energy Drinks

In a study that was featured in the May/June 2012 issue of General Dentistry, experts measured the effects of sports and energy drinks on tooth enamel by simulating levels of exposure expected in a normal consumer. The researchers alternated short exposure to the beverages with exposure to artificial saliva. They discovered that energy drinks are significantly more acidic than sports drinks, but both pose a danger to the health of your teeth . When acidic food and beverages come into contact with your teeth, they attack your enamel and dissolve your teeth’s mineral content, leading to tooth decay and possible tooth loss. The danger of the popularity of these beverages is that the majority of people who consume them are not aware of their contents or what they do to your teeth. Most people associate sports drinks with a healthy lifestyle, and consider them “healthier” for your teeth than carbonated drinks or juice.

Acidity and oral health has been studied and recorded excessively. If you consume energy or sports drinks, Dr. LaFrom suggests rinsing your mouth with water afterwards to neutralize the acid. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, contact Dr. LaFrom at our Cupertino dentist office by calling (408) 996-8595. We serve patients from Saratoga, Campbell, Sunnyvale, San Jose, and Santa Clara County.


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