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Franklyn Alexander, DDS
General & Cosmetic Dentistry

Patients Choice Winner 2016

Energy and Sports Drinks May Do More Harm Than Good

Many people assume that sports and energy drinks are a healthier alternative to soda, and these drinks are especially popular among teens and young adults. However, sports drinks are often unnecessary and can be downright harmful to your dental health; energy drinks have even more potential for negative effects throughout the body. Learn why water is usually a better choice, and when it might be appropriate to have a sports drink on hand.

Sports and Energy Drinks Tend to be Highly Acidic

Sports and energy drinks claim to enhance energy levels and/or performance by delivering electrolytes and nutrients to the body during a workout, or providing caffeine and vitamins throughout the day, so many people think they’re a better choice than soda or juice. In fact, when it comes to your teeth, the high acid levels in sports drinks are no better than sodas. Citric acid, which helps give many sports drinks their flavor, weakens enamel over time. There’s also usually a hefty dose of sugar in popular sports drinks, which in turn helps bacteria in your mouth produce even more acid. Energy drinks tend to have even higher levels of sugar and acid than sports drinks, making them extra dangerous to your dental health.

Just How Harmful are Sports and Energy Drinks?

One study found that teeth exposed to sports and energy drinks on a regular basis showed signs of damage after just five days; while sugar and acidity levels vary among brands, in general, energy drinks are twice as harmful to enamel as sports drinks. Damaged enamel is a big problem when it comes to oral health; teeth with weakened enamel are more prone to cracks, chips, and decay. Once enamel is eroded or damaged, it can’t be replaced, so the importance of treating your teeth well can’t be overstated.

Sports and Energy Drinks are Unnecessary for Most People

Many people who drink energy drinks on a daily basis could get more energy in their daily lives by simply getting more sleep and eating a healthier diet. While an energy drink may provide a short burst of productivity, the lack of nutritional value and potential for heart arrhythmia and blood pressure problems make them a less-than-ideal choice for everyday consumption.

On the same note, sports drinks aren’t necessarily beneficial to athletes who maintain a mild to moderate activity level, so if you plan on exercising for 60 minutes or less, there’s no reason to pick up a sports drink on the way to your workout; water is all you’ll need before, during and after. However, if you’re participating in intense workouts- like marathons, all-day bicycle rides, or training for Olympic events- the potassium and sodium content in sports drinks can be helpful in replenishing your body’s natural nutrient levels. Don’t rely on sports drinks alone to hydrate during extreme exercise; you need water as well. Have a bottle of each close by, or dilute your sports drink of choice with a good amount of water.