Energy and sports drinks advertise themselves as a necessary component to help athletes keep going and push themselves to the limit.
However, for many young athletes who buy into this message, these drinks carry a consequence not advertised — extensive, adverse effects on their dental health.
“I played soccer in high school for four years. I ran track for four years,” Jon Salisbury, from Billerica, Mass., told CBS Boston. “And I played soccer in college for three years. … I’m 25. I’ve had two root canals already.”
Salisbury told CBS Boston that his consumption of energy drinks likely played a major role in his two root canals.
“On any given day, I’d drink at least half a gallon of Gatorade to prepare for it, if not more, and that didn’t include if I had an energy drink,” he said.
Salisbury is just one of likely millions of young people who choose to fuel up on sugar-laden energy drinks before playing sports.
The excessive sugar in these drinks becomes food for the bacteria that live in the mouth — and the waste that these bacteria produce is essentially an acid that eats away at teeth and causes tooth decay.
“It seems like we are hearing more and more about the negative effects that these energy drinks have on our bodies, most of which are not something people notice right away,” says Dr. Charles Botbol, Lead Dentist at Studio B Dental in Toronto, ON. “However, when these drinks start eating away at your smile and causing you lots of expensive dental work, people are going to start taking notice that these drinks are not worth it.”
Dr. Peter Arsenault, Salisbury’s dentist and Division Head of Operative Dentistry at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, agrees that tooth decay is easily preventable.
“This is a disease that we know how to stop, and dental disease is the most widespread disease in the world. … It’s almost an epidemic because we’re seeing young people emulate athletes. And it’s being supplied now in high schools and colleges and even at the youth levels where kids are drinking Gatorade. There’s a lot of marketing that goes into it,” Dr. Arsenault told CBS Boston.