Which Beverages Are Hazardous to Your Teeth?

Sports drinks are receiving closer scrutiny in a new report that shows non-cola soft drinks, energy/sports drinks and commercial lemonade "showed the most aggressive dissolution effect on dental enamel," said researchers Dr. J. Anthony von Fraunhofer and Dr. Matthew Rogers.

Simulating the effects of beverage consumption over a 13-year period, the researchers soaked pieces of healthy human tooth enamel in a variety of drinks-cola and non-cola soft drinks, sports drinks, commercial lemonade, bottled iced tea and black tea-for 14 days.

"We were totally shocked at how aggressive these [drinks] were toward dental enamel," Dr. von Fraunhofer told WebMD. "This study revealed that the enamel damage caused by non-cola and sport beverages was three to 11 times greater than cola-based drinks, with energy drinks and bottled lemonades causing the most harm to dental enamel."

The American Dental Association says that few studies in scientific literature specifically evaluate the role of soft drinks in the development of tooth decay; however, increased sugar in the diet increases the risk of decay.

In addition, most soft drinks contain phosphoric acid and citric acid. Acidity can dissolve tooth enamel and result in erosion or loss of hard tissues from the tooth surface. It is widely accepted that acid in food and beverages plays a major role in the development of enamel erosion, according to the ADA.

"Many teen and adult patients are consuming record numbers of sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks and non-nutritious snack foods," said Dr. Matthew Messina, ADA consumer advisor. "These items generally have little if any nutritional value, and some dentists fear they are taking a toll on teeth."

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Tips for a Healthy Diet

  • Foods high in sugar are a particularly common cause of tooth decay. Making these foods a treat rather than a staple will help protect your teeth.

  • To maintain a balanced diet, eat a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups.

  • When choosing a snack, go for nutritious foods such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt or a piece of fruit.