Man Loses Half His Teeth To Energy Drink Addiction

By Bryan Le 04/17/17

Despite kicking the habit two years ago, Josh McKee's teeth are still painfully rotting.

Dentist holding a rotten tooth.

Josh McKee, a 28-year-old man in New Zealand, must undergo dental procedures to restore his teeth after rotting most of them away with years of energy drink consumption. Despite kicking the habit two years ago, McKee is still suffering from the accumulated damage from the sugar-packed drinks.

McKee says he started drinking energy drinks regularly when he was about 17 or 18 years old, but his habit spiraled out of control: “By the time I was 21, 22, my teeth were actually crumbling. Bits of teeth break off when you brush them or bite into something, you know, bite into a steak and you lose a chunk of tooth.”

At the peak of his energy drink addiction, McKee was drinking three cans of the stuff a day. He’s embarrassed to smile because he’s afraid to show others how decayed his teeth have become. He was aware that it was a bad habit, but thought brushing his teeth would stave off any ill effects. "I had a bit of an idea but I just didn't want to accept it I suppose," he says.

Despite all he’s been through, he can still feel the addictive pull of the drinks. "Still I will go into the dairy to buy milk, see the energy drink fridge, stop and I have to tell myself no, walk away from it,” McKee says. "Two and a half years later, to me that is pretty extreme."

His dental problems are so severe they’ve cause him to miss work and fall behind on rent payments. He also can no longer eat many of the foods he once enjoyed: "I love to eat apples but I can't because they set my teeth off and hurt my gums and it swells up and the next thing you know I have a toothache."

Dr. Rob Beaglehole, the dentist who is treating McKee, says that during the extraction of six of McKee’s teeth, the smell of the abscesses were so bad he gagged. "What the energy drinks did actually is they dissolved the back teeth so much that you can't actually see the tooth anymore," says Dr. Beaglehole.

Dr. Beaglehole said that while McKee’s case is a bit of an extreme example, it shows the importance of picking water over sugary drinks.

It doesn’t take three energy drinks a day to make it a dangerous habit—just once daily is enough to lead to heart problems. Energy drinks are even more dangerous when combined with alcohol, which can cause drinkers to misjudge how drunk they are.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter