Sports and energy drinks may help to rehydrate you after a workout but sipping on these all day can damage your teeth. That's because acids in sports drinks eat away at the tooth's hard enamel coating into the dentine (bone-like structure underneath), causing the teeth to soften. If this is left untreated, it can lead to severe tooth decay. Sports and energy drinks commonly contain organic acids that erode dental enamel by breaking down calcium, which is needed to maintain strong healthy teeth and prevent gum disease. Teenagers are particularly susceptible because their enamel is still immature and porous, making it more vulnerable to attack by acids. Previously, it was thought that fizzy soft drinks were the only culprits to cause dental erosion, but scientists have found that enamel damage caused by sports drinks and non-cola drinks is three to 11 times greater than damage caused by cola drinks, with energy drinks and bottled lemonades causing the most harm. To prevent tooth erosion, drink responsibly: Choose water or low-fat milk as drinks in between meals. These help to preserve tooth enamel and prevent damage. Don't hold or swish drinks around in your mouth - drink quickly. Use a straw placed towards the back of the mouth so that you minimise the time the drink is in contact with the teeth. But the teeth at the back of your mouth are still bathed in a pool of sugary and acidic liquid. So try to rinse your mouth with water after drinking or eating anything acidic, which includes oranges and lemons. You can brush your teeth, but not immediately after drinking or eating. Wait for at least 30 minutes before brushing to allow softened enamel to harden. Limit your intake of sodas, fruit juices, sports drinks and energy drinks. Substitute a glass of water for a sports or soft drink every day. To avoid wearing away the weakened tooth enamel, brush your teeth in a circular rather than horizontal motion. Eat a piece of cheese or drink milk at the end of a meal to help neutralise acids. Chew a piece of sugar-free gum after eating. This will help you to make more saliva. What is dental erosion? Every time you eat or drink anything that contains acids, the enamel on your teeth becomes soft for a little while afterwards. It also loses some of its calcium. Fortunately, saliva produced in your mouth helps to neutralise the acids and restore balance. If acid attack happens too often, your mouth doesn't have the chance to repair itself and the enamel gets washed away, so gradually you will lose the hard outer surface of your teeth. Once the enamel is worn away, the dentine underneath is exposed. As dentine is sensitive, this could lead to a lot of pain when you eat hot, cold or sweet foods and drinks.