Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Are You Aiding & Abetting an Enemy of Your Teeth?

Sports and Energy Drinks Responsible for Irreversible Damage to Teeth

The time of year for outside sports and activities is upon us.  Sports enthusiasts pack up the coolers with plenty of liquid to keep themselves or their children hydrated, but many might not know they are putting themselves or their family members at great risk for tooth decay.

A recent study published in the journal General Dentistry discussed the disturbing increase in the consumption of sports and energy drinks, especially among children and adolescents and how these drinks have rapidly come to dominate a large proportion of the commercial beverage market in the United States. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently reported that sports and energy drinks are being aggressively marketed to children and adolescents for a variety of inappropriate uses.

Sports drinks and energy drinks are significantly different from each other. While sports drinks contain carbohydrates and electrolytes, energy drinks add unregulated amounts of caffeine.  The Huffington Post quotes Jennifer Bone, DDS, MAGD, "Teens regularly come into my office with these types of symptoms [of tooth decay, sensitivity and cavities], but they don't know why," Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Jennifer Bone, DDS, MAGD, said in a statement "We review their diet and snacking habits and then we discuss their consumption of these beverages. They don't realize that something as seemingly harmless as a sports or energy drink can do a lot of damage to their teeth."

Researchers examined the acidity levels in 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks. They found that the acidity levels can vary between brands of beverages and flavors of the same brand. To test the effect of the acidity levels, the researchers immersed samples of human tooth enamel in each beverage for 15 minutes, followed by immersion in artificial saliva for two hours. This cycle was repeated four times a day for five days, and the samples were stored in fresh artificial saliva at all other times.

“This type of testing simulates the same exposure that a large proportion of American teens and young adults are subjecting their teeth to on a regular basis when they drink one of these beverages every few hours,” says Dr. Jain.

The researchers found that damage to enamel was evident after only five days of exposure to sports or energy drinks, although energy drinks showed a significantly greater potential to damage teeth than sports drinks. In fact, the authors found that energy drinks caused twice as much damage to teeth as sports drinks.

With a reported 30 to 50 percent of U.S. teens consuming energy drinks, and as many as 62 percent consuming at least one sports drink per day, it is important to educate parents and young adults about the downside of these drinks. Damage caused to tooth enamel is irreversible, and without the protection of enamel, teeth become overly sensitive, prone to cavities, and more likely to decay.

Dr. Bone recommends that her patients minimize their intake of sports and energy drinks. She also advises them to chew sugar-free gum or rinse the mouth with water following consumption of the drinks. “Both tactics increase saliva flow, which naturally helps to return the acidity levels in the mouth to normal,” she says.

Also, patients should wait at least an hour to brush their teeth after consuming sports and energy drinks. Otherwise, says Dr. Bone, they will be spreading acid onto the tooth surfaces, increasing the erosive action.  

Dr. Clark adds that if the drinks are sipped over longer periods of time the damage is worse and happens quicker.  We now offer a new fluoride varnish treatment which provides even more protection for your teeth from acid attack.

The cause for concern is very real.  We hope that as you reach for those cold beverages this summer season, you will think twice about what you are drinking or providing for your children to drink.  Nothing can compare with the refreshing taste of ice cold water, and that choice can make a huge difference in your overall dental health!

Call us to schedule an appointment to discuss 
your sensitive teeth issues.  We are here to help!
(541) 451- 1440

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