Sports and energy drinks are becoming increasingly popular with teens, and dentists are becoming concerned about the lasting impact that this trend may have on oral health.
According to a study from the University of Iowa, sports drinks are even more corrosive to teeth than colas and energy drinks. Researchers found that the high sugar content and acids in sports drinks can damage tooth enamel and the roots of teeth.
In the study, teeth were continuously exposed to sports drinks, colas, diet colas, energy drinks and apple juice for over 25 hours. Sports drinks were found to be the most corrosive to both enamel and the roots of teeth. Cola and energy drinks were the next most corrosive, followed by diet cola and apple juice.
Another study from the University of Birmingham found that athletes' dry mouths limited the ability of saliva -- which normally protects teeth by rinsing away acids and debris -- to neutralize the effects of sports drinks. The researchers also said that it would be possible to develop sports drinks that did not harm teeth if enamel-protecting additives were used.
The good news is that if you are only using sports drinks to stay hydrated during athletic events, you probably don't have too much to worry about. An Ohio State University study of 304 athletes found that there was no correlation between tooth erosion and sports drink consumption.
Researchers from the Gatorade® Sports Science Institute have said that sports drinks hydrate and stimulate tooth-protecting saliva flow during athletics, but you should avoid sipping them throughout the day since this will prolong teeth's contact with harmful sugar and acid.