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New Study Examines Tooth Destruction Caused by Energy Drinks

The acid in energy drinks demineralizes teeth, and researchers have the science to prove it. As published in the May/June issue of General Dentistry, irreversible damage to dentition is being caused by consumption of energy drinks—a trend increasingly popular among teenagers and young adults, who rely on these beverages for a boost of energy during studying and sports activities. According to researchers, teeth begin to suffer irreversible damage from energy drinks after just 5 consecutive days of consumption. With an estimated 30% to 50% of United States youth calling energy drinks their beverage of choice, educating this patient population about the beverages' long-term consequences is important.

"Patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth in acid," says Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, lead author of the study. To test how harmful these popular drinks truly are on the dentition, Jain and colleagues submerged tooth enamel in 22 different energy and sports beverages for an average of 15 minutes. The enamel was then immersed in artificial saliva for 2 hours. Researchers repeated these steps four times per day for 5 consecutive days.

Energy drinks caused more harm to enamel than sports drinks, though both caused irreversible damage that can lead to dentinal hypersensitivity and increased risk of caries.The Academy of General Dentistry suggests that those who continue to drink the beverages should chew sugar-free gum or rinse the mouth with water following consumption to increase saliva flow and normalize acidity levels in the oral cavity.