SPRINGFIELD, Mo -- They can give you a "pick me up" or help you rehydrate after long day in the sun, but according numerous studies energy drinks and sports drinks are exposing people to possible dental issues.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, New York University College of Dentistry, Dimensions of Dental Hygiene, and General Dentistry all came to a similar conclusion: many popular drinks are capable of hurting your teeth by eroding your enamel.
"That eroded enamel then is more susceptible to decay and sensitivity," said Springfield dentist Dr. Michael Beasley. Dr. Beasley is part the Missouri Dental Association, the American Dental Association, and the Springfield Dental Society.
Those studies, based on lab tests, are disputed by the American Beverage Association.
Maureen Beach, Director of Communications, sent KY3 this response in relation to this story:
"The body of available science does not support that beverages are a unique factor in causing tooth decay or erosion. However, we do know that brushing and flossing our teeth, along with making regular visits to the dentist, play a very important role in preventing them."
The ABA also has a statement on its website concerning these studies:
“This study was not conducted on humans and in no way mirrors reality. The authors used slices of tooth enamel samples from extracted molars, and then placed them in petri dishes of liquid for extended periods of time. People do not keep any kind of liquid in their mouths for 15 minute intervals over five day periods. Thus, the findings of this paper simply cannot be applied to real life situations. Furthermore, it is irresponsible to blame foods, beverages or any other single factor for enamel loss and tooth decay (dental caries or cavities). Science tells us that individual susceptibility to both dental cavities and tooth erosion varies depending on a person’s dental hygiene behavior, lifestyle, total diet and genetic make-up.”
Dr. Beasley agrees that proper dental care is important. However, he also believes sports and energy drinks can be problematic. He says it comes down to the level of acid, or pH level, in whatever you are drinking.
Water is generally considered to have a pH of 7. That is neutral. Battery acid has a level of 0. Stomach acid varies heavily. It can be between 1-2 or as high as 4-5.
Coffee has a pH that hovers around 5.5. That's the level Dr. Beasley says enamel starts to erode. The lower the pH, the higher level of acid. The lower the pH, says Beasley, the higher the chance your teeth could be damaged.
pH levels in common drinks according to Dimensions of Dental Hygiene:
- AMP Energy Drink (8 oz) - 2.7
- Coca-Cola Soft Drink (8 oz) - 2.5
- Coffee (8 oz) - 5.5
- Full Throttle Energy Drink (8 oz) - 1.45
- Gatorade Sports Drink (12 oz) - 3.4
- Monster Energy Drink (8 oz) - 2.7
- Mountain Dew Soft Drink (8 oz) - 3.2
- Powerade Sports Drink (12 oz) - 2.6
- Red Bull Energy Drink (8.3 oz) - 3.3
- Rock Star Energy Drink (8 oz) - 1.5
pH levels in other drinks according to Northwest Dentistry, March-April 2001:
- Sprite - 3.42
- Pepsi - 2.49
- Diet Pepsi - 3.05
- Dr. Pepper - 2.92
- Squirt - 2.85
- Lipton's Iced Tea - 3.86
- Nestea Iced Tea - 3.04
- Snapple Plain Tea - 3.93
More pH levels according to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio:
- white vinegar - 3
- lemon juice - 3
- cranberry-apple juice - 3
Dr. Beasley says he sees a lot of patients that consume high acid drinks on a regular basis. "[They are] constantly coating their teeth with acid. It's not quick exposure which isn't good either, but they are constantly bathing their teeth in acid"
Again, there are several drinks that are high in acid. Fruit juice is an example.
If you don't want to give up your favorite beverage, there are a few things you can do to help lessen the affects of acid.
"Rinsing with water immediately afterward," said Dr. Beasley, "consuming it as quickly as you can, and not holding it in your mouth any longer than necessary"
The Academy of General Dentistry agrees, and also says chewing sugar-free gum can help.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun