Energy drinks are more strongly associated with dental problems than traditional soft drinks, an Australian study has found.
Researchers at the University of Sydney examined the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages on oral health among more than 3500 teens from 84 schools.
The findings, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, found one quarter drank one to two cups of sugary drinks daily. One in seven drank more than two cups.
“New generation” energy drinks were the most popular sweetened drink of choice, with one in five (19.4 per cent) drinking at least one cup every day.
In total, 4.1 per cent had a frequent toothache; and 4.7 per cent avoided eating some foods because of problems with their teeth or mouth in the past 12 months.
Frequent toothache was more common among the 50 per cent of teens who drank at least one cup of per day.
This link was strongest for energy and sport drinks, diet soft drinks and flavoured water.
According to the study, teens who consumed these drinks daily were at a “four- to five-fold” increased risk of poor oral health.
While the reason for this is not clear, the findings are concerning and warrant further research, say the authors.
“The clear and consistent associations between diet and new generation soft drinks and oral health impacts is of concern, because these beverages are marketed and promoted as an alternative beverage choice for adolescents, and adolescents perceive these beverages as healthy,” the authors wrote.
“Although only a small percentage of adolescents consumed these beverages, consumption was associated with oral health impacts. Reductions in the frequency and volume of these beverages could have significant impact on adolescents’ oral health, and potentially influence weight status.”