The Unsweetened Truth About Drinks and Teeth

You may know that what you drink can have a major impact on the health of your teeth. But what if I told you that just two weeks of ongoing energy or sports drink consumption will age your child’s teeth by 13 years?

Here’s the sticky truth. Energy, soda, and sports drinks all have extremely high quantities of both sugar and acid. Bacteria in your mouth convert sugar to acid, and acid dissolves your tooth enamel. Dissolved enamel = tooth decay.

The damage is doubled in a child’s mouth, whose teeth are nearly half the size of adults. When kids consume these drinks, the tooth decay happens more quickly because there is significantly less enamel protecting their teeth.


So what should you keep out of your refrigerator? Citrus-based energy drinks and artificial citrus flavored sodas or sports drinks are the worst offenders because of their high acidity. These drinks are most damaging when they are sipped regularly throughout the day.

DrinkAcidityChartAs a dad of two school-aged children, I know that giving water 100% of the time is just not realistic. That’s why I recommend limiting non-water drinks to once or twice per week, given in a single serving. If you have a choice, offer solid fruit rather than fruit juice. If your child’s heart is set on juice or another sugary drink, try diluting it, ideally to ¾ water and ¼ drink product to lower the concentration of acidity and sugar. Make sure to avoid energy drinks 100% of the time; they are simply bathing teeth with acid. And watch out—even beverages labeled “sugar-free” can be highly acidic.

If you have no choice, try to stick to drinks with 10 grams of sugar or less per serving. Rinsing your mouth with water or chewing sugar free gum after consuming a sugary drink helps restore normal acid levels in the mouth. When you brush, make sure to wait at least an hour after finishing the drink, so that you don’t spread acid onto the tooth surfaces.

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