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A Drink More Damaging to Teeth Than Colas

Prolonged consumption of sports drinks may be linked to erosive tooth wear, according to a study conducted by the New York University School of Dentristry.

Erosive tooth wear is a condition in which the acids eat away the tooth's smooth enamel coating and invade the bonelike material underneath, causing the tooth to soften and weaken.

To observe the effects of sports drinks on teeth, researchers cut cow's teeth in half and submerged one half in a sports drink and the other half in water.  Cow's teeth were used because of their close resemblance to human teeth.

Five teeth were immersed in each drink for 75 to 90 minutes to simulate the effects of drinking sport drinks throughout the day.

When the two halves were compared, the researchers discovered a significant amount of erosion and softening had occurred in the teeth submerged in a sports drink.  No such erosion or softening was observed in the teeth submerged in water.

The researchers attribute the damage caused by sports drinks to citric acid, an ingredient added to sports drinks to enhance flavor and extend shelf life.  Excessive consumption of citric acid has been shown in previous studies to be capable of eroding tooth enamel.

The study also states that brushing your teeth after drinking a sports drink can exacerbate the problem.  This is due to the susceptibility of softened enamel to the abrasive properties of toothpaste.

If you frequently consume sports drinks, it is suggested that you consider using an acid-neutralizing toothpaste to help re-harden the soft enamel.  It is also suggested that you wait at least 30 minutes after consuming a sports drink to brush your teeth.

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