News | Published May 11, 2012

Drinking energy drinks can be damaging to teenagers’ health…and teeth

The more we learn about energy drinks, the more I am afraid of the effects they have on teens who are consuming them in record numbers. One of the biggest concerns for physicians with these products is what actually is in these energy drinks. Many of them boast a "proprietary blend" recipe that gives the drinks their kick, but we don't know what is truly in the blend. Since they are not regulated by the FDA parents should be concerned - as I am from a medical perspective - about high levels of unknown ingredients being ingested at high rates. The elevated levels of caffeine are enough to cause or incite arrhythmias in the heart, now we have evidence of damage to teeth. This article details the impact of highly acidic beverages on a teen's teeth.

"Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are 'better' for them than soda," says Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH, lead author of the study. "Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid."

The report goes on to say:

The researchers found that damage to enamel was evident after only five days of exposure to sports or energy drinks, although energy drinks showed a significantly greater potential to damage teeth than sports drinks. In fact, the authors found that energy drinks caused twice as much damage to teeth as sports drinks.

With a reported 30 to 50 percent of U.S. teens consuming energy drinks, and as many as 62 percent consuming at least one sports drink per day, it is important to educate parents and young adults about the downside of these drinks. Damage caused to tooth enamel is irreversible, and without the protection of enamel, teeth become overly sensitive, prone to cavities, and more likely to decay.

Some suggestions to counteract the tooth-decaying effect of sports and energy drinks:

  • Minimize the intake of these beverages by drinking more water
  • Chew sugar-free gum or rinse with water after drinking these beverages
  • Wait at least 1 hour to brush teeth after consuming these drinks to prevent spreading acid onto tooth surfaces

My feeling is that more and more bad effects will be coming as we get better at recognizing the effects of these drinks on the body.