Updated September 13, 2022
Energy drinks continue to gain popularity despite increasing reports that they are bad for your teeth. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), evidence shows that energy drinks can have serious health effects, particularly in children, teenagers, and young adults. For instance, the high acidity level in these beverages can strip your tooth’s enamel leaving permanent damage. Perhaps it’s time to consider whether the extra boost is worth the permanent risk to your smile.
What Are Energy Drinks?
The NCCIH states, “Energy drinks are widely promoted as products that increase energy and enhance mental alertness and physical performance. Next to multivitamins, energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement consumed by American teens and young adults.” The most popular brands of energy drinks sold in the U.S. are Red Bull, Monster, and RockStar. In 2015, Red Bull had $4.55 billion in sales. The soda industry is noticing a slow, steady decline in sales, but the energy drink industry is steadily climbing.
What Is In An Energy Drink?
Caffeine—Energy drinks contain a varying amount of caffeine, some as high as 160mg, which is equivalent to a Starbucks coffee. If you would not let your child drinks a strong coffee at Starbucks, you should not let them drink them.
Taurine—Taurine is an amino acid, present in most energy drinks. It shows no actual evidence of providing any energy at all.
Guarana—A plant native to the Amazon region, guarana berries contain a very high concentration of caffeine. Guarana is an ingredient in both Monster and Rockstar energy drinks. If you see both caffeine and guarana listed as ingredients, it’s a double whammy.
Lots and lots of sugar—An 8-oz serving of Monster energy drink contains 27g of sugar, which is the amount of sugar in an 8-oz serving of CocaCola. The critical thing to remember is that most people buy both energy drinks and sodas in 16-oz bottles or cans. If you drink a 16-oz energy drink, the amount of sugar is doubled to 54g, which is higher than the recommended daily allowance.
“Water is the best energy drink.”
How Do Energy Drinks Cause Cavities?
Energy drinks cause cavities in the same way sodas cause cavities: high sugar content and very acidic pH. It is crucial for both parents and children to understand that these beverages offer no health advantages over sodas. In fact, they are more harmful due to the high levels of caffeine they provide.
Sugar—The bacteria which is naturally present in your mouth eats sugar, and its by-product is an acid. When this acid stays in contact with the enamel surface, it begins to weaken the outer layer of enamel. This process is the beginning of a cavity. The more sugar you drink, the more you are feeding the bacteria in your mouth, enabling them to cause damage to your enamel.
pH—All energy drinks, even the sugar-free versions, have a very low pH. Consistently drinking very acidic drinks predisposes you to a higher risk for cavities.
How to Quit the Habit
If you consume multiple energy drinks a day, you may have a caffeine dependency. Trying to quit altogether would be a good goal for your dental and overall well-being but will require small steps. Here are a few alternatives to consider:
Natural Energy Drink Alternatives
- The Green smoothies and juices: Use kale, parsley, and spinach when making your green juice. They are natural sources of Vitamin B, which helps your body perform at optimum levels.
- Green Tea: Contains natural caffeine in small quantities. Green tea also carries health benefits such as reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease, as well as improving performance and mental clarity.
- Water: Water is the best energy drink. Metabolic reactions slow down when you’re dehydrated, which leads to lower energy levels. Get creative by adding lemon, lime, strawberries, or blueberries to your glass of water.
If you need more suggestions on how to stop drinking energy drinks, or have concerns about tooth damage resulting from consuming them, contact us for a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.