The study was especially concerning for researchers since most people reach for a cola or sports drink when they are thirsty or dehydrated. Normally, saliva helps neutralize acids like those in cola and sports drinks, but saliva levels are the lowest when you are dehydrated. Continual drinking of these beverages, especially when you’re thirsty, can erode teeth to the dentin, the layer below enamel, and cause pain and sensitivity in your teeth. When left unchecked, the erosion can cause a nerve infection and lead to the need for root canal therapy.

Because of this study, the Academy of General Dentistry recommends limiting the intake of soda and sports drinks. Choose water or low fat milk when you’re thirsty to preserve dental enamel and ultimately protect your teeth from decay. When you want to enjoy a carbonated or sports beverage, drink with a full meal, and be sure to brush and floss soon afterwards. If you drink a sugary or carbonated beverage without eating, chew sugarless gum afterward to increase your saliva flow.