May 3, 2012 8:51 am

Energy drinks eat at teens’ teeth, damaging enamel

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TORONTO – Energy drinks have picked up in popularity in recent years, but a new report is warning of the damage the sugar-laced beverages can have on teens’ teeth.

Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, MDX, Full Throttle and the small canisters of 5-Hour Energy were all energy drinks tested in the study. They’re easily found in most Canadian supermarkets and drugstores.

Southern Illinois University researchers say the beverages are a common choice for teenagers, who down energy and sports drink, to help them get through the day.

“Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are ‘better’ for them than soda,” lead author Dr. Poonam Jain said in a statement.

“Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid,” he said.

The researchers tested acidity levels in 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks by dunking tooth enamel in each beverage for 15 minutes. The samples were then immersed in artificial saliva for two hours.

The cycle is similar to what teens expose their teeth to when they drink these beverages every few hours, Jain said.

Results showed that damage to the enamel, the glossy, protective outer layer of the tooth, was recorded after just five days of testing.

Energy drinks were “significantly greater” in wearing down enamel compared to sports drinks.

The researchers say damaged tooth enamel is irreversible. Afterwards, teeth can become sensitive, prone to cavities and even tooth decay.

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