Your teeth are made from enamel which is the hardest substance within the human body. It is tougher than bone, and that is not surprising because your teeth have to put up with a lot of strain biting and chewing and breaking down tough food every day of your life. However, even enamel can be damaged, and one of the easiest ways to break down your enamel is through acidic drinks.
Energy drinks on average have twice the level of acidity than sports drinks. Acidity is measured on the pH scale (you may remember using this scale during chemistry lessons at school). The lower the pH level, the more acidic the substance is. Generally, human saliva sits in the middle of the scale, making it a neutral substance. But after taking even one small sip of an energy drink can change your saliva into a very acidic liquid, sitting as low down as two on the pH scale. An acidity pH of 5.5 or lower will wear down enamel. From one sip, it takes half an hour for your body to regulate your saliva and return it to a neutral substance. During this half-hour, the enamel of your teeth is slowly eroded by the saliva’s acidity. The effect of this multiplies with the more sips you take. So even one can, or bottle of an energy drink can create a highly erosive environment for your teeth.
What Does Acidity Do To Your Teeth?
If you pop a tooth into an acid bath, then it will eventually wear away to nothing. This is a process known as tooth erosion. Erosion can happen to a whole tooth or set of teeth, or it can be localised creating cavities. Once the process of erosion has begun, it is permanent, and you cannot restore the enamel with your teeth. Enamel is not made of living cells, and therefore unlike bone or muscle cannot heal itself. Signs that you may be experiencing tooth erosion are:
- Discolouration of your teeth making them appear more yellow
- Experiencing pain or heightened sensitivity when you eat or drink hot or cold substances
- Your tooth begins to lose their standard shape becoming thin or sharp due to wear.
- If a tooth or teeth are lost completely.
- If you begin to develop an abscess within the mouth.
- If fillings become loose.
Acidic drinks can also cause gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD is a severe form of acid reflux when you experience the strong stomach acids flowing up into your mouth. As the stomach acids have to be strong enough to break down your food, they are also strong enough to erode your teeth.
Saliva with a low pH can also damage your gums and has been linked to gum disease. Acid fosters an oral environment which allows for harmful bacteria that heightens your risk of infection within your mouth.
While many people recognise that highly sugary drinks can be detrimental to their oral health, energy drinks are not much better as they are incredibly acidic. Energy drinks can have a pH of around 3.2, battery acid as a comparison has a pH of 1.
Alongside this energy drinks can also create excess energy within the body, encouraging people to grind their teeth. Excessively grinding your teeth can cause your teeth to wear and may need dental treatment.
Dentists say that in most cases, tooth decay is the result of numerous factors depending on an individual’s oral hygiene regime, their lifestyle, diet and even their genetic makeup. However, energy drinks have been noted as an important factor in many cases of tooth decay and erosion.
What To Do If Your Teeth Are Decaying
If you are experiencing any symptoms that might be caused by tooth decay, then it is advisable to seek a dental examination straight away. A dentist can begin treatment procedures or in particular cases, refer you to a specialist. Treatment will depend on the severity of the decay and whether tooth loss can be prevented or not. Aligners such as those made by ALIGNERCO can help straighten teeth and protect your smile if erosion has misshapen any teeth.
Remember the best way of preventing tooth decay and erosion is to have a good oral hygiene regime that includes regular brushing, flossing and an intake of water every day. Water helps to rinse away plaque and bacteria and restore your saliva’s pH balance. It is advisable to wait at least an hour before brushing if you have consumed an energy drink, as you do not want to brush to coat your teeth in acidic saliva.