Soft drinks, sport drinks, and energy drinks containing sugar are big business in the U.S. Frequent consumption of sugary drinks has long been known to contribute to dental caries. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), consumption of soft drinks in the U.S. has increased over the last 30 years with both adults and children. Soft drinks have been linked to obesity and type-2 diabetes. Teenagers and young adults consume more sugar drinks than other age groups. Males consume more soft drinks than females and low-income Americans consume more soft drinks than those with higher incomes. A non-diet soft drink is made from carbonated water, added sugar and flavors. Each can of soda contains the equivalent of about ten teaspoons, or 40 grams, of sugar. Mountain Dew® is so popular in the U.S. that the coined phrase “Mountain Dew Mouth” is a recognized term used by the dental profession for patients diagnosed with rampant caries and/or erosion.
Energy and Sports Drinks
A recent study published in General Dentistry, the clinical journal for the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) indicated there is a rise in energy and sports drink use, especially with adolescents. The researchers conducted a lab experiment where they exposed samples of human tooth enamel to 13 different energy and sports drinks and found that energy drinks had the potential to be more harmful than sports drinks after five days. The AGD reports 30-50% of teenagers consume energy drinks regularly and approximately 62% of adolescents consume at least one sport drink daily. Even if sugar-free drinks are consumed to prevent dental caries, acids in these types of drinks can cause enamel erosion if chronically consumed. We’ve heard the phrase “everything in moderation.” As dental professionals we educate our patients about frequently consuming sugary drinks and the potential for dental caries. However, to ask our patients to stop drinking their favorite drink would seem unreasonable. Asking our patients to consume their favorite drinks with meals and not throughout the day, would reduce the number of daily lactic acid attacks to enamel and exposed cementum.