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Drinks that damage teeth

Energy drinks and sports drinks are generally aimed at a youth market. You don’t see many ads featuring an octogenarian swigging down a caffeine-laden can “Blue Egret” energy drink, nor do the ads feature grandmothers climbing from the pool after a hard aqua-robics class and reaching for a “Turtle-ade” sports drink to rehydrate. The caffeine content of energy drinks is a major concern given the age of the target market as is the sugar content of all these drinks. This is especially true when you consider that these drinks may be consumed under the apprehension that they are “healthier” options than soft drinks. Now a new study has revealed yet another danger posed by excessive consumption of sports and energy drinks.

In the new study researchers looked at thirteen different energy and sports drinks and found that levels of acidity varied greatly between brands and also within different flavours of the same brand. Acidity levels are responsible for eroding the enamel of teeth, the hard, shiny, white outer surface. Once the enamel is damaged the inner soft dentine can start to decay rapidly.

The researchers immersed samples of tooth enamel in each of the thirteen drinks for fifteen minutes and then placed them in artificial saliva for two hours. The cycle was repeated four times per day for five days to imitate drinking four of these drinks per day. At all other times the teeth were stored in artificial saliva.

After just five days of the equivalent of four drinks per day the enamel was already damaged. Energy drinks were particularly bad, causing twice the damage of sports drinks.

The message should be that these drinks are no “healthy” option. Like soft drinks they should not be a part of your daily drinking routine. It’s hard to make a teenager or young adult hear that message when the drinks are portrayed as part of a cool and edgy lifestyle. It’s a bit similar to the way smoking was promoted in the 50s and 60s. Maybe though, the thought of a toothless smile might be enough to discourage over-indulgence in these ubiquitous products.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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