You are familiar with the names: Monster, UpTime, Bang, Red Bull, and Rockstar. That’s a shortlist of energy drinks that have become extremely popular in the U.S., making up over $53 billion in revenue in 2018 and expected to reach over $86 billion dollars in 2026. ***
These drinks are created to increase or “regain lost energy” for improving athletic performance or keeping us awake during the workday. They are effective at giving us an energy “boost” to keep us going before the event is over. Consumers believe that these energy drinks are a healthier alternative to soft drinks.
Most energy drinks contain the following ingredients:
- B vitamins
- Green tea extract
- Green coffee extract
- Ginkgo Biloba
Now, none of these ingredients, alone, are harmful to your health or teeth. However, when combined in a 16-ounce can, it can be quite harmful to your teeth, gums, and overall health.
All of these ingredients, in a high concentration, can erode tooth enamel. An average energy drink may contain up to 62 grams of sugar (the main ingredient) which is 15 ½ teaspoons! That’s more than a Coke or Pepsi or most mainstream soft drinks.
Another common ingredient found in energy drinks is citric acid. This is a preservative that adds to the flavor and keeps it on the shelf for a longer period of time. This ingredient goes right to the teeth and will strip the enamel off, thus, leaving teeth vulnerable to decay, cavities, and gum disease.
The acidity can cause the pH balance in the mouth to plummet to as low as 2. This is below the healthy oral pH balance of 6.8. Once this balance is lowered, it can take thirty minutes to one hour to return to its normal value.
The unhealthy effects of drinking energy drinks are not limited to the teeth, of course. Recent studies have found that energy drinks can enhance the contraction of the heart and speed up the heart rate, which is unhealthy for anyone with a heart condition. Studies also found a sudden spike in the QTc levels or arrhythmic heartbeats. Consuming a 32-ounce energy drink within an hour can result in changed heart rhythm and may cause hypertension.
Additionally, if you are consuming energy drinks regularly, you can have withdrawal symptoms. This may be felt by frequent headaches and migraines when the caffeine amount is lowered during the day.
Drinking energy drinks may also impede a good night’s sleep. Insomnia is a common effect that makes sense due to the high amounts of caffeine and sugar. That lack of sleep takes its toll on the body and mind.
You may think this is a stinging indictment of all energy drinks. It is not. Like most things in life, moderation is key.
In fact, if you follow these steps, you can help avoid these health issues:
- Drink only 1-2 energy drinks per week.
- Brush your teeth one hour after drinking one. (Brushing earlier may damage the enamel).
- Consume the energy drink within 30 minutes after opening it.
- Use a straw to lessen direct contact with your teeth.
- See your dentist twice each year for regular cleanings.
Abstaining from energy drinks, altogether, is the best thing to do. But if you must, please follow the directions above and visit your dentist twice a year for thorough teeth cleaning.
We recommend that everyone is seen every 6 months to help monitor their oral health care. All Smiles Bethesda has experienced dentists and dental hygienists who can take care of your dental needs. If you would like to schedule an appointment at our family dentistry, please call us at 301-984-9646 or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*** For more information on the energy drink market, visit the www.statista.com website.