Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Sports drinks hurt kids' teeth

The sports and energy drinks that up to 62 percent of teens drink regularly deliver more than calories and caffeine.

Sports drinks hurt kids’ teeth

Recent research shows that high acid levels in sports and energy drinks can permanently damage the glossy enamel of teen´s teeth.(AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)
Recent research shows that high acid levels in sports and energy drinks can permanently damage the glossy enamel of teen's teeth.(AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)

The sports drinks and energy drinks that up to 62 percent of teens drink regularly deliver more than calories and caffeine. A new study shows that high acid levels can permanently damage the glossy enamel of their teeth.

"Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are 'better' for them than soda," says Poonam Jain, B.D.S., M.S., M.P.H., lead author of the study and director of The Community and Preventive Dentistry Program at Southern Illinois University. "Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid."

Jain and her team swished samples of human tooth enamel in 13 different drinks for 15 minutes four times a day, then stored the enamel chips in artificial saliva the rest of the time. After just five days, the enamel showed signs of wear.

Worn enamel isn’t just a cosmetic problem. When this hard stuff gets scuffed-up, the inner structure of their teeth loses protection. Eating hot, cold or sweet foods or drinks could cause pain, because microscopic tubes leading to the nerves in a tooth are exposed. Rough edges, yellow surfaces, dents and more cavities are also signs of worn enamel.

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Energy drinks caused twice as much damage as sports drinks. But other beverages and foods can also etch the surface of their teeth (and yours), including most soda, citrus fruit and juices, Jain found in a previous study.

You can protect your teens teeth by:

• Suggesting they sip sodas and sports drinks through a straw – and skip or limit energy drinks.

• Recommending a lower-acid drink, like root beer, milk, iced tea or water.

• Suggesting they chew sugar-free gum afterward.

• Rinsing with water after having a high-acid drink or food

• Waiting an hour afterward to brush teeth – because acid softens enamel, which would then erode more easily during brushing. Choosing a soft toothbrush helps, too. 

About this blog
The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Temple University Hospital
Christopher C. Chang, M.D., Ph.D Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Jefferson Medical Colg
Mario Cruz, M.D St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Drexel University College of Medicine
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist - The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic, CHOP
Gary A. Emmett, M.D. Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Lauren Falini Bariatric exercise physiologist, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Crozer-Keystone Health System
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, RD Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D. Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Jefferson Medical Colg
Flaura Koplin Winston, MD, PhD Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
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