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New Study Indicates That Popular Sports Beverages Cause More Irreversible Damage to Teeth Than Soda


While sports and energy drinks help athletes re-hydrate after a long workout, if consumed on a regular basis they can damage teeth. These beverages may cause irreversible damage to dental enamel, potentially resulting in severe tooth decay according to a study reported in the January/February issue of General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry ’s clinical, peer-reviewed journal. Dental enamel is the thin, outer layer of hard tissue that helps maintain the tooth structure and shape, while protecting it from decay.

“This study revealed that the enamel damage caused by non-cola and sports beverages was three to 11 times greater than cola-based drinks, with energy drinks and bottled lemonades causing the most harm to dental enamel,” said J. Anthony von Fraunhofer, FRSC, FADM, lead author, Professor of Biomaterials Science at the University of Maryland Dental School. “A previous study in the July/August issue of General Dentistry demonstrated that non-cola and canned iced teas can more aggressively harm dental enamel than cola.”

The study continuously exposed enamel from cavity-free molars and premolars to a variety of popular sports beverages, including energy drinks, fitness water and sports drinks, as well as non-cola beverages such as lemonade and ice tea for a period of 14 days (336 hours). The exposure time was comparable to approximately 13 years of normal beverage consumption.

The study findings revealed that there was significant enamel damage associated with all beverages tested. Results, listed from greatest to least damage to dental enamel, include the following: lemonade, energy drinks, sports drinks, fitness water, ice tea and cola. Most cola-based drinks may contain one or more acids, commonly phosphoric and citric acids; however, sports beverages contain other additives and organic acids that can advance dental erosion. These organic acids are potentially very erosive to dental enamel because of their ability to breakdown calcium, which is needed to strengthen teeth and prevent gum disease.

“These findings are important and suggest that caution should be exercised when consuming popular sports beverages over long periods of time,” said AGD spokesperson and president-elect Bruce DeGinder, DDS, MAGD. “We recommend altering or limiting the intake of soda and sports drinks and choosing water or low fat milk instead, to preserve tooth enamel and ultimately protect teeth from decay.”

General Dentistry, a peer-reviewed, bi-monthly scientific journal is the leading authoritative source of dental information to more than 65,000 general dentists nationwide. The journal contains relevant information on the latest research findings, clinical techniques and self-instruction exercises for continuing education credit enabling dentists to provide the best possible patient care.

Jennifer Starkey | EurekAlert!
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