In 2021, Americans purchased an estimated $13.97 billion worth of energy drinks. Both millennials and older adults use these “powerhouses-in-a-can” to get through long and arduous days, but at what cost? Over the years, the Long Island area care team at Babylon Dental Care has observed the adverse effects of energy drinks on patients’ oral health. There are benefits and risks with everything you put in your body, and in this post, we’ll give you the information you should have before you next reach for an energy drink.
Energy Drinks Could Lead to Tooth Decay
Different formulations of energy drinks contain different amounts of ingredients, including sugar and sweeteners. The sugars in energy drinks could lead to tooth decay later down the line.
Your mouth is a haven for different forms of bacteria. Some kinds of bacteria can benefit you, while others will not. Harmful bacteria use the sugar you eat as food and form plaque. The acidic waste they expel ultimately wears away at your teeth’s enamel if it’s not removed by toothbrushing or by your saliva.
Dentists may recommend sealants or fillings to treat this decay. In the worst case, endodontic procedures may be necessary if the decay reaches the root of an affected tooth.
Energy Drinks Erode Enamel
Other energy drink ingredients, such as heightened quantities of flavorings, dyes, vitamins, or guarana, are highly acidic on the pH scale. If the acid from oral bacteria causes decay, the additional acid in the drink itself adds insult to injury and can further wear away your teeth’s enamel.
There are a number of oral health risks when too much enamel wears away. They include:
- Tooth sensitivity – If you feel sudden tooth pain when consuming certain hot or cold foods, or food with certain irritating ingredients, you may be dealing with sensitivity. As our enamel wears away, the root of the tooth and its nerve endings become more exposed.
- Infection – If bacteria enter inside the tooth, serious infections could result. You may experience bleeding, swelling, or gum problems.
Brush, Brush, Brush
Just as a good brushing and flossing routine prevents decay from other sources, it also helps defend your teeth against the harmful effects of energy drinks.
Don’t brush your teeth right after you drink an energy drink. It may seem counterintuitive, but you might risk moving around the enamel-destroying acids you’re trying to stop. Instead, wait an hour, then proceed to brush and floss well according to your usual healthy routine.
Chase the Energy Drink
If you must reach for an energy drink, it’s best to also reach for a healthy chaser. By “chaser,” we’re referring to some sort of food or drink that neutralizes, or at least dilutes, the acid in the energy drink. By diluting the acid, you lower the potential of damage to your enamel and the possibility of decay setting in.
The best possible liquid chaser is a glass of water. After you drink it, swish to ensure it reaches all mouth surfaces. A carrot stick, yogurt, or a glass of milk will work, too.
Encourage Your Saliva
Your saliva is your body’s natural chaser and can help dilute the acid in the energy drink over a more extended period of time. After you finish your energy drink, wait 30 minutes to an hour. You can simulate the motion of chewing to stimulate the production of saliva or chew your favorite sugar-free gum.
Just Say No
The most foolproof way to avoid the negative health consequences of energy drinks is not to drink them. Of course, this decision is no substitute for a robust oral health and hygiene routine, but if you don’t consume energy drinks, you don’t risk added enamel erosion of your teeth. Even if you previously drank energy drinks, stopping now means less risk of dental harm in the future.
Consider other ways of boosting your energy that you may not have tried before. Specific varieties of coffee or tea, for example, are stimulating but far less acidic than an energy drink. You could do push-ups and sit-ups, take routine breaks, or redesign your schedule to be more energizing.
Contact Babylon Dental Care Today
At Babylon Dental Care, we can address your dental questions in a compassionate and non-judgmental way, so you feel more confident about getting dental care. If you have dental problems that might be linked to energy drinks, we’re happy to offer you comprehensive examinations and state-of-the-art treatments.
Call our office today at (631) 983-6665 to schedule an appointment with one of our Babylon dental health experts. We offer new patient specials and affordable annual dental care packages.