Anyone with a teenager is probably aware of the enormous number of sugar-laden energy drinks available on the market today. One of the more recent shifting trends in energy enhancing beverages, though, is the increasing number of sugar-free energy being introduced and marketed toward young people.
At our practice in Turlock, we get to see first-hand some of the damage these drinks are doing to our younger patients, and we regularly get questions from parents asking if these drinks are dangerous since they don’t have sugar in them. In this post, we’ll talk about some of the science behind sugar-free energy drinks and why they’re harmful to your teeth even without the sugar.
Health Risks of Energy Drinks
According to experts at the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics, energy drinks, which are considered supplements and not regulated in the same way as food or drugs, pose a health risk and should be avoided by children. While the caffeine boost from these drinks can be nice, they increase the consumer’s blood pressure and pose serious risks to people with certain types of heart conditions.
In addition to being dangerous to one’s physical health, energy drinks are also extremely damaging to your oral health. The acid in energy drinks, for example, is twice as high as the acidity you’d find in sports drinks like Gatorade. Even small amounts of energy drinks can change the composition of bacteria-fighting saliva in your mouth, causing your teeth to be at high risk for decay.
Despite these risks to children and adults alike, the global energy market is predicted to double between 2013 and 2021.
Are Sugar-Free Energy Drinks Better for You?
Although it’s certainly better for your physical health to consume less sugar, the erosion your enamel experiences from sugar-free carbonated drinks, including diet soda and sugar-free energy drinks, is about the same as it would experience if you were drinking the regular kind.
Even if they remove the sugar, companies that make energy drinks still use acids such as citric and tartaric acid when making their products. In many studies done on sugar-free vs. sugary drinks, the amount of enamel erosion is about the same whether or not the drink contains sugar as a sweetener.
Consume Sugar-Free Energy Drinks with Caution
The bottom line is that energy drinks sweetened with sugar or other artificial sweeteners pose some fairly significant physical and oral health risks. If you’re going to consume them, they should be consumed with heavy moderation and they should be avoided by teenagers and anyone younger. Research what’s in your drink of choice and do your best to protect your smile because you’re worth it.
Thanks for Reading!
We hope this post helps you reconsider before you pull that big can of caffeine out of the cooler at your local supermarket or convenience store.
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