The problem: Dental erosion is the chemical loss of tooth structure due to acids or chelators that are not produced by bacteria.
The consumption of acidic carbonated and non-carbonated beverages is identified as one of the main causes of dental erosion.
Is increasing: The Australian off-trade sales of sports beverages have increased from 61.2 million litres in 2004 to 95.6 million litres in 2009, more than 9% average annual increase, nearly twice the global value.
The test: Drinks tested: Coca-Cola (+ve control), Mount Franklin mineral water (-ve control) and 8 sports drinks (2 liquid, 6 powders).
This test was in vitro (on extracted teeth).
Tests were for loss of enamel surface, softening of the enamel surface, and taste.
The taste panel clearly preferred the taste of beverages with lower pH.
The products with erosive potential (Gatorade, Staminade, Powerade) had pH ranging from 2.81 to 3.55, high titratable acidity, and low calcium levels. The presence of sodium citrate and citric acid cause the high titratable acidity. Citric acid is a particular risk for damaging the teeth, because the citrate anion is able to chelate calcium in addition to the erosive effect of the released protons.
Sukkie and Endura were shown to be the best (of those tested) to avoid dental erosion. They are mildly acidic, did not produce measurable surface loss, and minimal softening of the surface enamel. However, consumers would need to compromise on flavour to get the health benefit. Both Sukkie and Endura contain sugars that oral bacteria can ferment to produce acids, which could initiate or progress dental decay.
Conclusion: Consumers should drink sports drinks in moderation, and be aware of the oral health risks of consuming these beverages.
ref: "Erosive potential of sports beverages" N J Cochrane et al ( Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre, Melbourne Dental School) , Australian Dental Journal 2012, 57: 359 - 364.
18/1000 sec from winning lemon tart - but was allowed to have one anyway!!