You know that feeling: it’s 2 p.m., you’ve been productive for a few hours, and your brain starts slowing down—so you grab an energy drink. Or maybe you’re an energy-drinks-over-coffee type of person, so you’re fueling yourself at 8 a.m. with a redbull.
Whatever your specific situation may be, if you enjoy energy drinks, you’re certainly not alone.
In the United States, about 34% of young adults (18 to 29 years) drink energy drinks regularly, and about 42% of adults (ages 30 to 49) drink them regularly (Statista).
Energy drinks are a daily beverage for plenty of people out there—whether it’s a Redbull, Monster energy drink or Celsius. But does this popularity mean energy drinks are safe? Let’s explore!
- Is Red Bull bad for your teeth?
- Are sugar free energy drinks bad for your teeth?
- Do energy drinks affect your gums?
Are Red Bull & other energy drinks bad for your teeth?
For you energy drink lovers out there, we’ve got some tough news for you. It’s true that energy drinks present a number of dental and periodontal risks, similar to sodas. Most energy drinks have high sugar content (unless they’re sugar-free of course) and are very acidic in nature.
The pH of energy drinks ranges from 1.5 to 3.3, which is exceptionally acidic. To give you some background information on what exactly ‘acidic’ means, we’ll take a look at the pH scale.
From pH 0 to 6, a food or beverage is considered acidic. The closer to 0, the more acidic. Around 6 to 8 pH, things are pretty neutral. From 8 to 14 pH on the scale, the food or drink at hand is considered alkaline.
The pH level of the mouth is directly affected by the foods and drinks we eat, and our oral pH level has a direct effect on our teeth and gum health.
The normal pH range for saliva is 6.2 to 7.6, so when the pH levels in your mouth dip below 5.5, this increased acidity starts to break down the protective enamel on your teeth and places you at a higher risk of developing cavities (tooth decay).
So, because the pH level of energy drinks is around 2 and the ideal mouth pH is around 6, drinking energy drinks everyday can in fact damage your teeth and gums.
Energy Drinks and Gums
Because the acidity of energy drinks can break down or demineralize your enamel, this can cause tooth sensitivity. The enamel serves to protect the softer, underlying parts of the teeth and prevent bacteria from causing damage.
As the enamel wears down, the gums become more susceptible to damage. They can start to recede, exposing the tooth roots. This can cause the gums to bleed, become inflamed and infected. (This is when a periodontal cleaning treatment is absolutely critical in order to preserve your gums!)
Over time, receding gums can lead to gum disease, as bacteria can easily reach below the gum line and cause pockets to form around the tooth roots. (Now you may need periodontal pocket reduction surgery!) If left untreated, these pockets can continue to increase in size, causing the teeth to become loose or even fall out.
But don’t panic! It takes a lot to reach this point of teeth falling out and gum disease ravaging the mouth. You’d have to ignore quite a few signs to end up here.
Are sugar-free energy drinks bad for your teeth?
Sugar-free energy drinks are almost equally as bad for your teeth as regular energy drinks. While high sugar content plays a key role in the damaging effects caused by energy drinks, sugar-free energy drinks aren’t out of the woods.
Sugar-free energy drinks still have very high acidity levels. Your own saliva helps to neutralize the acids in your mouth, but highly acidic foods can also increase your saliva acidity.
The key to reducing the acid damage on your teeth is washing away the beverage from your teeth as soon as possible. If the acidity sticks around for a while, this is when it leads to harmful bacteria growth.
What can you do to minimize damage to your teeth?
- Take great care of your teeth and gums! You can effectively cleanse your teeth and gums and wash away the acid by brushing and/or flossing after you drink an energy drink. Maintaining optimal oral health also supports your mouth in warding off harmful bacteria and protecting itself from damage.
- Don’t sip on your energy drink for too long. You can’t necessarily clean your teeth while you’re still drinking your beverage, so try not to sip on your drink for too long. Try to drink it relatively quickly to prevent the acids from breaking down your enamel. Sipping on an acidic drink over a longer period of time increases your chances of developing cavities and weakening your teeth and gums.
- Drink energy drinks (and other acidic beverages) in moderation. Everything is okay in moderation. Should you drink an energy drink every day? Probably not. But if you’re a die-hard energy drink fan, take some other precautions to prevent your favorite beverage from damaging your teeth and gums.
We’re here for you and your gums! We want to help you keep your natural teeth as long as possible. By committing to your regular oral hygiene routine, you can minimize and prevent the damage caused by highly acidic drinks and foods.
Commit to a balanced diet. Clean your teeth regularly, not just at the beginning and end of the day. Limit your alcohol intake and coffee intake (unfortunately). Or at the very least, brush your teeth and rinse your mouth out after.
Have questions about gum health?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. We love to hear from you and we want to provide you with the information you need to maintain a beautiful smile.
If you’re looking for a top periodontist in Tampa or New Port Richey, we’d love to meet you! Request an appointment today.