The Low Down on Energy Drinks

October 5, 2018

The carefree days of summer have come to an end and just like that another school year is upon us!  Our kiddos are back to waking up early and School sports are in full swing again. With sports comes the need to stay hydrated, but there are many drinks out there that can be deceiving. Many sports drinks seem to be targeted toward kids. Most also have high levels of sugar, which is why kids usually prefer them over plain water. The constant intake of these sugary and acidic beverages though, can have unwanted ill effects on our teeth.

Dental erosion is a loss of mineral in the teeth from external sources like food and beverages. If our teeth are consistently in contact with acidic substances, the remineralization process that repairs our teeth cannot keep up with the demineralization. Ultimately, this leads to a softening of the enamel and loss of total tooth volume. These factors leave our teeth more susceptible to decay. It has been found that most sports drinks are quite acidic with a pH level well below the critical pH of 5.5. See the table below for the pH of several popular sport and energy drinks.

Product pH
1. Monster Assault: 3.49
2. Red Bull: 3.37
3. Gatorade Fruit Punch: 3.27
4. Propel Mango: 3.23
5. Gatorade Lemon-Lime: 3.07
6. Full Throttle Energy Drink: 2.94
7. Gatorade Cool Blue: 2.92
8. 5-Hour Energy: 2.81
9. Powerade Red: 2.77
10. Rockstar: 2.53

So, now that the acid has done a fine job softening up our teeth, it’s time for the bacteria to feast on all of that sugar. Many sports drinks contain added sugar and some nearly as much as soda! Cavity causing bacteria live on the sugars we consume. They convert the sugar to…..you guessed it, more acid. It’s also providing a food source for the bacteria so they will continue to thrive. As your tooth structure begins to weaken, a cavity will form and eventually penetrate through your enamel leaving a “hole” in your tooth.

These drinks were originally intended for athletes engaging in prolonged physical activity, in which case the sugar may not be as much of a concern. In reality though, the average consumer is not an athlete and may be receiving too much sugar and even sodium than is recommended. If your kids are engaging in highly active sports, encourage them to drink water in addition to their preferred sports drink. Water helps to balance the pH of the oral cavity, and help to decrease the likelihood of developing cavities.

Cavities on the teeth of a young boy.

The next time your young athlete reaches for one of these beverages we encourage you to read the label and be sure it’s providing them with what they really need. If you have any doubts, choose water! We wish everyone a great school year and good luck to all the kiddos participating in local sports!

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/teen-oral-care/ada-06-energy-and-sports-drinks-harmful-for-kids

 

https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/are-sports-drinks-bad-for-your-mouth#1

 

https://touroscholar.touro.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1007&context=sjlcas


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