Energy Drinks and Your Teeth

Energy drinks have rapidly gained in popularity over the last two decades.  They are a common beverage choice among teens and young adults, often replacing sodas and sports drinks.  There are a wide variety of energy drink options on the market today, including Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, and more.

The bad news is that these are not good for you.  We’ll explain why in this week’s blog.

Why are Energy Drinks Bad for You?

The energy for which energy drinks are named is the result of a variety of stimulant chemicals present in the beverages.  In addition to caffeine, these drinks contain other “uppers”, leading to increased wakefulness and alertness.

Unfortunately, these uppers also increase your heart rate and blood pressure, too.  There are rare cases of young adults who essentially “OD” on energy drinks by suffering a cardiac event.

The stimulants disrupt a healthy sleep schedule and negatively impact concentration and attention spans.

Why are Energy Drinks Bad for Your Teeth?

Energy drinks have two factors making them bad for your teeth, both of which increase the risk for cavities.  The first is sugar content, and the second is pH.

Sugar Content

Energy drinks are typically high in sugar.  Some contain the same amount of sugar as a typical soca (like Coke or Dr. Pepper).  Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause cavities.  As you ingest high levels of sugar, you are essentially feeding and strengthening these bacteria, making it easier for them to cause tooth decay.

Acidic pH

The second problem with energy drinks is their acidic pH.  The pH of energy drinks ranges from 1.5 to 3.3, which is extremely acidic.  When bacteria cause cavities on the teeth, they eat sugar in order to produce acid.  It is actually the acid that softens and weakens tooth enamel enough that the bacteria can penetrate into the tooth and cause decay.  When you drink beverages that are acidic, you are bringing the pH in the mouth down to an acidic level.  That means the enamel is already in a compromised state, and it is easier for the bacteria to penetrate.  They have to make less acid to get through enamel in an already-acidic environment.

What about the Sugar Free Energy Drinks?

Even sugar free energy drinks contribute to a high risk for cavities.  This is due to the low (acidic) pH of the drink.  Drinking acidic beverages, even without sugar, puts your mouth in a more vulnerable state.  The enamel loses is strength and hardness.  It becomes more difficult to resist the attacks of cavity-causing bacteria.

Many people enjoy their energy drinks by sipping on them throughout the day.  This increases the risk for cavities even further by keeping the pH inside the mouth at an acidic level.

How Can I Enjoy my Energy Drink and Protect my Teeth?

In order to protect your teeth, you must protect the pH of your mouth.  Choose the sugar free option of energy drinks so that you are only fighting the acid battle.  Then drink the beverage quickly.  Shorten the length of time that you expose your teeth to the acidic drink.

After finishing your energy drink, bring the pH in your mouth back up to neutral by drinking plain (non-sparkling) water or chewing sugar-free gum.

Make sure that you are keeping your teeth as clean as possible with great brushing and flossing routines.  See your dentist regularly for professional teeth cleanings, and follow his recommendations for preventive options to strengthen your enamel!

More Questions about Energy Drinks?

Call Timberlake Dental at 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can answer any questions you have about energy drinks and assess your current risk for cavities.  We love helping our patients keep their teeth healthy!