Are Energy Drinks Bad for Your Teeth?

Excessive sugar can be bad for your teeth. When we eat sugary foods, the bacteria that are ever-present in our mouths feast on the sugar, eventually turning it into acid that will damage our teeth. Identifying foods and drinks that are high in sugar so you can avoid them is a great way to protect your teeth. 

Sodas have long been flagged as sugary drinks that can cause cavities. But it isn't only sugar that causes tooth decay. Teeth can also sustain damage from energy drinks and sports drinks because of the high levels of caffeine and acidity in addition to the amount of sugar in each can. Dentists have commented that many patients even falsely believe that energy drinks or sports drinks are a positive alternative to sodas. While some energy and sports drinks have less sugar than soda, that is not always the case. More and more evidence suggests that the negative side effects of energy drinks are bad for you and your oral health, specifically damaging the enamel of your teeth.

The tough outer layer of enamel, which is harder than bone, is essential to the health of your teeth. Once the enamel begins to weaken, your teeth can be susceptible to tooth decay. 

Side Effects of Energy and Sports Drinks on Oral Health

Side Effects of Energy and Sports Drinks on Oral Health

Energy drinks and sports drinks erode the tooth enamel because they contain sugar, caffeine, and acidic ingredients. When a person consumes a drink, the fluid floods over the teeth and gums. Saliva prevents the drink from sitting too long on your teeth by washing the fluid away as well as balancing the pH levels in the mouth so that your mouth stays healthy. Dentists recommend waiting 30 minutes to an hour after consuming an energy drink to brush your teeth. This time frame allows your saliva to balance the pH levels in your mouth. Brushing too soon can spread the acidity around, causing more enamel to be weakened. However, if a person consistently sips on energy drinks throughout the day, the saliva isn't able to properly balance the pH levels, and the teeth will be continually coated with an acidic, sugary liquid.  

Besides tooth erosion, another side effect of drinking energy drinks comes from the hyperactivity that people feel after consuming the drink. The huge caffeine and sugar introduction into their system can cause people to grind their teeth, which wears away the enamel or breaks off bits of the tooth, leaving more vulnerable layers of the tooth exposed. 

Like many other beverages and foods, energy and sports drinks can also stain your teeth. Many drinks like coffee and red wine are known to stain your teeth because of their dark color. But the actual caffeine is bad for your teeth in more ways than one. Caffeine, like in energy drinks, can not only discolor teeth, but it can also wear away the enamel. While sodas can have around 35 mg of caffeine per can, a cup of coffee contains closer to 100 mg of caffeine. Energy drinks often surpass coffee by having over twice the amount of caffeine, with some brands containing amounts up to 240 mg of caffeine per can. 


While energy drinks are very high in caffeine, they also have low pH levels, which indicate high acidity. This is an additional acidity to the naturally occurring acids that bacteria produce after consuming sugars in your mouth. One study found that energy drinks are responsible for enamel dissolution at a more than two times higher rate when compared to sports drinks. While your mouth naturally has an almost neutral pH of 6.8 or 7, the pH of energy drinks is around 3.2, making energy drinks highly acidic and bad for your teeth. 

Many energy drinks contain the amino acid, taurine because of its assumed health benefits. While this ingredient can be helpful during a work out, taurine can be bad for your teeth because it contributes to the overall acidity of the drink. Acidic ingredients in energy drinks can even cause mouth ulcers or mouth sores. 

While the damage from energy drinks on your tooth enamel is at a higher rate, sports drinks should not be considered a safe alternative. The side effects of sports drinks can also cause enamel erosion as well, especially when consumed regularly. When compared to water, sports drinks are acidic and should be consumed in moderation or diluted. 


Sugar can be naturally found in drinks such as apple juice or orange juice, or it can be added to drinks to make them taste better. It is tempting to think that a natural sugary drink like juice would be better for you. But when it comes to your teeth, sugar, no matter how naturally derived, leads to cavities if consumed frequently and over long periods throughout the day. Drinks high in sugar content sit on your teeth, allowing mouth bacteria to consume it, which produces an acid that can erode your teeth leading to tooth decay. 

For general health, the recommended limit of sugar intake each day is between 25-36 grams. While the most sugary sodas have 40-46 grams of sugar in a single can, a 16 oz. can of an energy drink contains between 54-62 grams of sugar, close to doubling the recommended amount of sugar consumed for an entire day. 

What About Sugar-Free Energy Drinks?

If sugar-filled energy drinks are bad for your teeth, it seems reasonable to assume that sugar-free energy drinks would be a better choice. But it turns out that sugar-free energy drinks are also bad for your teeth. Many drinks that don’t have added sugar in them can still be full of naturally occurring sugars, like fruit juices. Energy drinks and sodas that are diet or labeled as sugar-free often contain other harmful ingredients, such as phosphoric, citric, and tartaric acids, that can damage your teeth.  

How Can I Drink Energy Drinks Without Damaging My Teeth?

"Tips to prevent tooth decay caused by energy drinks: use a straw, rinse with water, and wait 30 minutes to brush"

The best way to protect your teeth from the harmful and damaging effects of energy drinks would be to stop drinking them and opt for a less harmful alternative. But while this may be the best way to keep your teeth from becoming eroded by the additional sugars, acids, and high caffeine levels found in energy drinks, some habits are hard to break. Other tips to protect your teeth while still drinking energy drinks would be to:

  • Drink them quickly without sipping them over a longer period of time
  • Use a straw
  • Rinse your mouth with water after drinking an energy drink
  • Wait 30 minutes after drinking an energy drink to brush your teeth
  • Use fluoride toothpaste

Try replacing half the energy drinks you consume in one day with a more healthy alternative. According to the American Dental Association, healthy alternatives include:

  • Water
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Milk
  • Unflavored sparkling water
  • Diluted juice

Find a Dentist Near You

A major part of avoiding the harmful side effects of energy drinks and protecting your mouth from tooth decay is by seeing a dentist twice a year for routine cleanings. If energy drinks or other sugary foods or drinks are causing tooth decay in your mouth, having a trusted dentist looking over your teeth will help catch cavities early. If you are looking for a dentist in your community, use Smile Generation’s Find a Dentist tool today. 

Find a local trusted dentist near you


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