For years, parents and dental professionals nationwide have been discussing the harmful impact that sugar has on teeth, while society has also become increasingly aware of how sugar laden drinks and foods can cause long term decay. The truth is, however, that the citric acid included in energy drinks poses an equally significant if well hidden danger to the oral health of youngsters in the U.S., especially given the popularity of established brands such as Red Bull and Gatorade. So what dangers do this type of acid present, and should parents consider energy drinks as being similar to sugary soda?
The Facts: The Purpose of Citric Acid and it’s Dangers
Citric acid is used heavily in energy and sports drinks, primarily as a preservative that enhances flavor and also extends an individual product’s shelf life. It is therefore a crucial ingredient within energy drinks, as it helps to improve their appeal to the much coveted teenage consumer demographic. The issue with this, however, is that it also has the potential to strip the enamel from teeth, which ultimately leaves them exposed to the risk of cavities and long term decay. Although the exact impact of excessive energy drink consumption has remained unknown for decades, recent research has shed some light on the long term effect that they can have on oral health.
The study, which was published in the June issue of General Dentistry, focused on the fluoride levels, titratable acidity and pH of 9 branded energy drinks and 13 sports drink products. These were measured carefully, and researchers also paid attention to the length of time that it took for saliva to neutralize acid in the mouth. After this, each individual drink was tested to see how much enamel it removed from teeth, as molar fragments were doused with the liquids and left for a total of 15 minutes. Over a 5 day period, it was discovered that although both substances caused the loss of enamel, energy drinks were far more destructive than sport beverages.
The Bottom Line
With an estimated 50% of teenagers in the U.S. now consuming energy drinks on a regular basis, there is a serious chance that they will gradually lose the enamel on their teeth and develop multiple cavities. This is a prelude to long term tooth decay which if not addressed may require dental implants or even dentures, and further indication that dentists throughout the U.S. have a tough task to educate the next generation of adults on the importance of maintaining good dental health care. If you are an avid drinker or energy and sports drink, then it may well be time to book an appointment at Colorado Springs dentist, Dr. Andrew Hall.