Research has shown that the citric acid in sports drinks can damage teeth.
Researchers at the New York University College of Denstistry used cow teeth to come to this conclusion. They cut the teeth in half and put them in the top-selling sports drinks, and after they soaked up to 90 minutes (similar to a human sipping on drinks throughout the day), they found that the enamel of the teeth was partially eaten away. If the enamel coating is weakened, the sports drinks are more likely to leak into the bonelike material underneath the enamel, which causes teeth to soften and weaken. This condition is called erosive tooth wear, and it can lead to severe tooth damage or the loss of teeth if it is not treated.
Surprisingly enough, Dr. Mark Wolff, chairman of cariology and comprehensive care at the NYU College of Dentistry, said brushing immediately after drinking a sports beverage is likely to cause more damage than waiting a bit. This is because the softened tooth enamel is more vulnerable to the toothpaste’s abrasiveness.
Experts recommend that people should consume sports beverages in moderation, and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing their teeth, so the softened enamel has time to re-harden. It may also be a good idea for someone who consumes a lot of sports drinks to find an acid-neutralizing, re-mineralizing toothpaste to help re-harden soft tooth enamel.