Are energy drinks rotting your kids' teeth? Probably

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PHOENIX -- More and more kids, teens and young adults are embracing energy drinks as their beverage of choice, and their teeth could suffer for it.

Dr. Lee Weinstein of Dental Associates for Kids Only says there is an incredible amount of sugar in many of those drinks and it's rotting kids' teeth.

"The sugar content in most of the drinks that we have today is way, way, way too high," he said.

Summer generally brings a change in drinking habits.

"People drink more and they really don't pay attention to what they're drinking," Weinstein explained.

Sugar isn't the only culprit. The acidity of sports and energy drinks is turning out to be a serious issue, too. Researchers found that citric acid, which is used both as a preservative and a flavor enhancer in such drinks, wreaks havoc on the enamel of teeth.

A new study from the Academy of General Dentistry took a look at the fluoride levels and pH of a variety of sports and energy drinks, including Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, MDX, Full Throttle Fury, Rip It, Red Bull Sugar Free, Monster Assault, Von Dutch and Rockstar. All of them were linked to tooth decay.

The energy drinks were the worst offenders by far.

Many teens and young adults love those drinks, often consuming several a day. The thought is that they are more healthful than soda.

“Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are ‘better’ for them than soda,” Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH, lead author of the study said in a news release.

“Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid,” Jain continued.

"What happens is it erodes the teeth." Weinstein explained.

According the to study, damage from the acid in the energy drinks can cause damage in as little as five day. Damage to tooth enamel is irreversible and puts the teeth at considerable risk for cavities and decay.

Drinking with a straw can help because it shoots the liquid past the teeth, Weinstein explained.

Weinstein offered several tips to help you and your kids avoid tooth decay.

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Check sugar content of drinks
  • Read labels carefully
  • City water (in Phoenix) has fluoride

If your city water does not contain fluoride -- Scottsdale's does not -- or you use a reverse-osmosis filter, you'll want to consider using a fortified toothpaste or mouthwash.

To contact Weinstein, call 480-767-5600 or visit LittleWhiteTooth.com.