FRIDAY, April 3, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Though some might see sports drinks as a healthier alternative to soda, a new study shows that the citric acid they contain can damage teeth.
The finding comes from a study involving teeth from cows. New York University College of Dentistry researchers cut the teeth in half and placed them in top-selling sports drinks. After soaking for up to 90 minutes, which the researchers said simulated sipping on the drinks throughout the day, the enamel coating of the teeth was partially eaten away. This allowed the drinks to leak into the bonelike material underneath the enamel, causing the teeth to soften and weaken.
The condition, called erosive tooth wear, can result in severe tooth damage and tooth loss, if not treated.
"This is the first time that the citric acid in sports drinks has been linked to erosive tooth wear," study leader Dr. Mark Wolff, chairman of cariology and comprehensive care at the NYU College of Dentistry, said in a news release issued by the school.
The findings were to be presented Friday at the International Association for Dental Research general sessions in Miami Beach, Fla.
Perhaps surprisingly, brushing immediately after having a sports drink might actually cause more damage, Wolff said, as the softened tooth enamel is vulnerable to the abrasiveness of toothpaste.
"To prevent tooth erosion, consume sports drinks in moderation and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth, to allow softened enamel to re-harden," he said. "If you frequently consume sports drinks, ask your dentist if you should use an acid-neutralizing, re-mineralizing toothpaste to help re-harden soft enamel."
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about oral health.