Seven years ago, Jain was the lead researcher on a team at Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine.
Their study comparing the impact of energy and sports drinks on teeth was published in the May/June 2012 edition of General Dentistry.
The researchers studied 22 beverages popular with young adults. They looked at what effect the 13 sports drinks and 9 energy drinks had on tooth enamel.
“We found the acidity was two times higher in energy drinks than it was for sports drinks,” Jain said.
“The lower the pH, the greater the potential for losing enamel from your teeth,” she added.
“Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, much harder than bone,” Jain said. “But the hardest substance in the human body dissolves in these highly acidic drinks.”
How does that happen?
First, she said your saliva is roughly a pH of 6.8 or 7, which is considered neutral.
Jain said researchers found that even a small amount of a highly acidic drink can send your saliva’s pH plummeting.
“You take a single sip of this drink and your saliva could potentially go down to 2 on the pH scale,” Jain said.
“It takes the human body approximately 30 minutes to buffer the saliva back to a normal pH,” she said. “For those 30 minutes, your teeth are essentially bathed in an acidic environment, in acid.”
“But you don’t stop at a single sip. You go on to drink that can, or bottle, or glass,” she added.
“I think there is a false sense of security about going to these drinks,” Jain said. “They sound so much healthier than drinking a soda.”
The American Beverage Association, however, says tooth decay and other dental problems are more complex than just a canned or bottled drink.
“No single food or beverage is a factor for enamel loss and tooth decay,” a statement from the organization to Healthline says. “Individual susceptibility to both dental cavities and tooth erosion varies depending on a person’s dental hygiene, lifestyle, total diet an genetic make-up.”