How Do Energy Drinks Impact Orthodontic Treatment

Energy drinks, soft drinks, and soda can be extremely harmful to teeth, but they can be particularly damaging if they are consumed during orthodontic treatment. So how do energy drinks impact orthodontic treatment?

Although many sports drinks’ manufacturers claim that their products replace electrolytes, reduce the risk of dehydration, stimulate the metabolism and increase physical stamina, they are less transparent about the affect these drinks can have on oral health.

The vast majority of people who consume energy drinks may not be drinking them for the health benefits that these drinks are marketed to provide.

Young woman consuming a sports drink at the gym

Whilst there may be a need to restore electrolyte imbalances following intensive exercise, a standard workout generally does not require such replenishments; this then may not require an individual to consume these sports drinks.

When looking at the age demographic that is more likely to consume surgery energy drinks you would find it is mostly teenagers and young adults.

This is also the exact demographic who are likely to be undergoing orthodontic treatment such as braces.

When combing the likelihood of orthodontic treatment and consumption of energy drinks, there is a high chance of the dental health being negatively impacted.

Why does orthodontic treatment increase the impact of energy drinks?

Sports and energy drinks are typically very acidic and high in sugar content, and this may cause damage to the teeth.

Known as decalcification, the acid in these drinks erodes or dissolves the enamel on the tooth and the sugar creates an accumulation of bacteria plaque.

As a result, individuals who consume these drinks may be at risk of increased sensitivity, cavities and white spots on their teeth as well as other dental problems.

Whilst the acidic nature of these drinks is enough to cause permanent damage to tooth enamel, many sports drinks have a high sugar content.

Healthy tooth and sugar balancing on seesaw swing

By adding a significant amount of sugar (or glucose) to their drinks, manufacturers can ensure that individuals get a quick burst of energy when they consume them.

However, this comes at a cost.

Plaque relies on sugar and starch to form on the teeth, so energy drinks which contain large amounts of sugar directly increase plaque production.

Unless plaque is quickly removed from the tooth, it begins to have a harmful effect on the enamel.

“Individuals who consume these drinks may be at risk of increased sensitivity, cavities and white spots on their teeth as well as other dental problems.”

As plaque builds up further decalcification occurs, eventually leading to additional cavities, sensitivity and gum disease.

Decalcification caused by the consumption of sports and energy drinks can even lead to bone loss and subsequent tooth loss.

Although energy drinks can cause harm to anyone’s teeth, they can be extremely damaging if they’re consumed whilst wearing orthodontic devices.

Fixed braces typically use a series of brackets and wires to re-align the teeth, and any food or drink consumed can cling to these materials.

Sticky or sugary substances, in particular, may be more likely to adhere to the braces.

While there is a range of cleaning devices which can assist in cleaning your teeth during orthodontic treatment, removing food debris and drink from around the brackets and wires can be tricky.

energy drinks impact orthodontic treatment by letting sugar get in behind and around your braces

Furthermore, with regular sips or gulps of drinks, the harmful sugar and acid are simply re-adhering to the tooth and the braces.

As a result, it’s far more difficult to effectively remove the plaque, acid, and sugar from the teeth when wearing orthodontics.

Due to this, individuals are more likely to experience decalcification and the harmful effects that go along with it.

Unless plaque is effectively removed, decalcification can occur within just four months, so it’s vital that patients try to minimise the risk of damaging the tooth’s enamel.

Are energy drinks harmful if you wear removable braces?

Orthodontic treatment varies depending on the patient’s needs.

In many cases, patients will wear removable appliances prior to having fixed braces fitted and once their fixed braces have been removed, permanent wire retainers are fitted to the back of the teeth.

However, energy and sports drinks can still cause considerable harm when wearing removable appliances, such as expanders and spacers.

When you consume any drink, it will naturally seep into the minute space between the teeth and the brace itself.

“Whilst there may be a need to restore electrolyte imbalances following intensive exercise, a standard workout generally does not require such replenishments”

The orthodontic material effectively holds the liquid against the surface of the tooth for longer, meaning the level of damage is increased and accelerated.

As a result, patients who consume energy and sports drinks whilst undergoing orthodontic treatment could experience decalcification in a very short space of time.

Once decalcification has eroded the enamel on the tooth’s surface, it will not be replaced naturally, and the risk of further oral health problems will increase.

While sports and energy drinks can cause damage to teeth in any situation, consuming these products whilst wearing any type of braces can exacerbate the harm and lead to permanent dental problems. 

The crucial factor to always remember is that brushing and flossing your teeth should be the most important part of your orthodontic routine.

This will do a great job in evading these oral health challenges during orthodontic treatment. 

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