Shocking experiments show how much damage energy drinks do to your teeth
A California dentists’ experiment provided some shocking evidence of the effect of soft drinks and energy drinks on oral health.
Dr. Tom Bierman, a dentist at the San Diego Dental Studio, was inspired to perform the experiment after reading Jonathan Waldman’s book “Rust: The Longest War.” The book claims that one in seven new energy drinks are too corrosive to be placed in aluminum cans. Dr. Bierman thought to himself “if that’s what these things do to a can, what on earth are they doing to our teeth?”
After deciding that he wanted to see the effects with his own eyes, Dr. Bierman took his four wisdom teeth, that had been extracted years before, and placed each one into a separate liquid. One tooth went into a bottle of a popular energy drink, another into cola, a third in diet cola and the fourth into water as the control. After two weeks of sitting in the liquids, Dr. Bierman discovered that the tooth placed in the cola had become almost entirely stained black. The tooth in the diet cola was also stained just not as severely. But it was the appearance of the tooth left in the energy drink that truly shocked him.
The tooth that had been placed in the energy drink showed that the enamel, which is the hard coating that protects the dentine underneath, had begun to crumble away. In the pictures that Dr. Bierman took from the experiment you can see pale pink and rust colored areas on the tooth that are caused by the staining from the drink, but the large lumps of enamel that came off the tooth are also visible. Bierman said, “The enamel on this tooth was crumbling away — it had been a lot more destructive to the enamel than the cola tooth. Even more concerning is that this was the sugar-free version of the energy drink: it’s very potent stuff.” Damage to tooth enamel is permanent, and without that protective outer layer, teeth are more prone to sensitivity, cavities, and are much more likely to decay.
Bierman shared the photos from his experiment on figure1.com, a website where doctors from around the world share medical images and share opinions. One doctor commented that he had a 28-year-old male with teeth decayed almost to the gum line thanks to daily consumption of energy drinks. Another doctor noted that over time the results are often worse.
While the consumption of these drinks has long been criticized by doctors, dentists, and health experts, it has not stopped people, particularly teenagers, from drinking them. It is estimated that more than 29 billion gallons of energy drinks are consumed by Americans every year. The largest percentage increase over the past few years was found in people above the age of 40, resulting in a 279% total increase in energy drink consumption. Five percent of adults consume energy drinks 5-7 times per month. Another 2% of adults will consume energy drinks more than ten times per month. Though soft drink consumption has decreased over the years, recent statistics show that the average American consumes 40 gallons of soda every year.
A 2012 study published in the Daily Mail found that energy drinks contain so much acid that they can start destroying teeth after only five days of consistent use. Energy drinks also cause twice as much damage to teeth as soft drinks. Red Bull will not give you wings, but it will give you tooth decay.