Over the past several years, sports and energy drinks have become increasingly popular. Many people feel that drinking sports and energy drinks are healthier for quenching thirst than sodas and sugary drinks. Now there is alarming evidence that suggests sports and energy drinks may be just as harmful for your overall health and teeth as regular sodas.

While energy drinks are boosting the sales of beverage companies, $8.6 billion in 2012 (The Economist), recent studies are showing that these sugary, caffeinated drinks may be taking a knockout punch on America’s dental health.

 

A study by the Academy of General Dentistry revealed that popular sports and energy drinks like Gatorade and Red Bull can seriously harm a tooth’s enamel, causing potentially irreversible damage. In addition to containing large amounts of sugar, ranging from 21 grams to 34 grams per 8 ounces, sports and energy drinks are very acidic and create an environment in your mouth that is conducive to dental decay. It’s like “bathing your teeth in battery acid,” states Dr. Jim Trentalance. “The low pH of the drink erodes the tooth’s enamel and the damage can start in as little as seven minutes.”

Dr. David Katz, Director of the Yale Prevention Center, told ABC News, “Bacteria convert sugar to acid, and it’s the acid bath that damages enamel, not the sugar directly. By incorporating a high acid load in a drink, we are just cutting out the middleman on the way to tooth decay.”

According to Dr. Jim Trentalance, normal pH in saliva should be around 6.8. To get an idea of what that means, water has a pH of 7 and battery acid has a pH of 1. By drinking these sports and energy drinks, you are changing the pH balance in your mouth and the impact can be devastating to your teeth.

Here are the pH levels of some popular energy drinks as they compare with Coke and Pepsi.

  • Full Throttle Energy Drink 3
  • Propel Fitness Water 3.4
  • Red Bull 3.3
  • Diet Coke 3.1
  • Pepsi 2.5
  • Coke Classic 2.4

It is not just your teeth that are under attack. Even more frightening are what these drinks may be doing to your body. “Acid leaches bone from the body,” states Dr. Joan Sandall, Head of Clinical Education at the University of New England Dental School.

Is Diet Soda Better?

Don’t let the name fool you. Just because it says “diet” doesn’t mean it’s better for you. A report published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism found that diet soda drinkers actually suffer the same exact health problems as those who opt for regular soda, including excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

When you are working out and want to drink a beverage that will help your performance, go back to the basics. Have a glass of water. Your teeth will thank you.