Energy Drinks Boost Energy but Zap Enamel

An alarming increase in the consumption of energy drinks, especially among adolescents, is causing irreversible damage to teeth.

An alarming increase in the consumption of energy drinks is causing irreversible damage to teeth.

Energy drinks have surged in popularity thanks to sponsorship efforts, with top brands like Red Bull and Monster spending large sums of money to achieve brand placement. While soda sales steadily declined in 2012, energy drink sales have been booming and now brands like Monster Energy are marketing their products as beverages instead of dietary supplements, which may further increase their popularity in the marketplace.

While this may not seem like a big deal, daily drinkers of energy drinks may have to start visiting their dentist more often.

In a study published in the May/June 2012 issue of General Dentistry, researchers looked at the effects of energy drinks on teeth. As it turns out, energy drinks contain high amounts of citric acid, and while citric acid is great for enhancing flavor and elongating the shelf life of these drinks, it wreaks havoc on your 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,” said Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH, lead author of the study, in an article on “Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid.”

Citric acid erodes tooth enamel, the tooth’s outer shell. 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.

So what’s a girl (or guy) to do for a tooth-healthy pick-me-up?

Green and black teas might just be the answer. Tea has elements that interact with plaque bacteria. These elements either kill bacteria or prevent them from growing and producing tooth-attacking acid.

Have you changed your caffeine habits to protect your teeth? We’d love to hear about what you’re doing!

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