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Energy Drink Erosion

By Jill Hamilton on October 25, 2012 in Dental Health


We all know the feeling that comes over us once 3pm rolls around. Our brains are thrown into low gear and a vague fogginess falls over our surroundings. It's the 3pm crash!

During the long work day and while we are still 2 hours from quitting time, many people have an exhaustion settle over them. This is usually the time when we get up and hunt for an energy drink vending machine or refill our coffee cups for the 10th time.

But are all afternoon pick-me-ups the same?

In a study published in the May/June issue of General Dentistry, researchers looked for the first time at the effects of energy drinks on teeth. Turns out that energy drinks contain high amounts of citric acid. And while citric acid is great for enhancing flavor and elongating the shelf life of these drinks, it wreaks havoc on teeth.

Citric acid erodes tooth enamel – the tooth's outer shell – and this hard covering does a lot to protect teeth from daily stress, stain and decay.  Unfortunately, tooth enamel is not like a broken bone that mends itself or a cut that scars to heal. Once tooth enamel is damaged, it is damaged forever.

Damaged enamel causes gaps in protection, making teeth vulnerable to decay and pain. Clearly something to avoid! Coffee isn't much better either. It is a top 3 tooth stain culprit and causes what many people lovingly refer to as “coffee breath”.

So what's a girl (or guy) to do for a tooth-healthy afternoon pick me up?

Well, green and black teas might just be the answer. Tea contains elements that interact with plaque bacteria. These elements either kill bacteria or prevent them from growing and producing tooth-attacking acid.

Have you changed your caffeine habits to protect your teeth? We'd love to hear about what you are doing. Let us know in the comments below!