Sports drinks and energy drinks aren't just a source of sugar for kids -- they could also be responsible for tooth enamel damage that increases the risk of cavities and decay, according to new research.
A study in the journal General Dentistry showed that tooth enamel is damaged after being exposed to sports drinks or energy drinks for just five days, with energy drinks causing two times as much enamel damage as the sports drinks.
"Teens regularly come into my office with these types of symptoms [of tooth decay, sensitivity and cavities], but they don't know why," Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Jennifer Bone, DDS, MAGD, said in a statement. "We review their diet and snacking habits and then we discuss their consumption of these beverages. They don't realize that something as seemingly harmless as a sports or energy drink can do a lot of damage to their teeth."
For the study, researchers from Southern Illinois University School of Dentistry looked at the levels of acidity in nine different energy drinks and 13 different sports drinks. They found that not all acidity levels were the same between brands, nor were they the same between flavors within the brands.
Then, the researchers soaked tooth enamel samples in each sports or energy drink. The samples were soaked for 15 minutes in each drink, and then were soaked for two hours in artificial saliva, for four times a day for five days.
The researchers found that enamel damage was evident after just five days.
Bone recommended that people who drink sports and energy drinks rinse out their mouths with water or chew a sugar-free piece of gum right after drinking the beverages. In addition, she said to wait at least an hour to brush your teeth after drinking the beverages, lest your toothbrush spreads the acid from the beverages all over your teeth.