When you hit the gym or load up a cooler for your child’s football game, what type of drink do you go for first? Chances are, like most athletes, you use sports drinks to stay hydrated. Surprisingly, these drinks may be doing more harm than good when it comes to your dental health.
More Damaging than a Soda
Did you know that sports drinks contain artificial sweeteners and sugars that trigger the same tooth decay seen in increased soda consumption? A study that was published in the General Dentistry journal revealed that, after a mere five days of regular use, energy and sports drinks begin to destroy the teeth due to the significant amounts of acid that they contain.
Healthy, fit, diet-conscious individuals could be losing their smiles because of what sports drinks are doing to their tooth enamel. The people who are some of the healthiest patients that we will ever see in our dental office might also be those with the most severe dental decay.
Why Liquids Are Dangerous
Liquids coat every surface of your tooth, especially the deep pits, grooves and surfaces between teeth. The acids hide in these areas for an extended period of time, constantly being refreshed with new acids each time you take another drink. When consumed frequently, decay rates skyrocket. Acid levels caused by sports drinks are just as significant as those found in [soda]s.
Do You Need Sports Drinks to Rehydrate?
Some studies suggest that unless you are training at professional or Olympic athletic levels, there is no need to use sports drinks to rehydrate. Instead, professionals recommend sticking to water as your beverage of choice. Only in extreme physical exertion will you possibly need something more than water.
Not only is water the natural source for hydration, it also contains fluoride. As you drink water, it rinses away acidic biofilm and helps improve your oral health. If you do need to have sports drinks, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after your workout. This limits the amount of time that the acids are over the surfaces of your teeth.
The Australian Dental Association suggests some ways to keep your teeth healthy:
- Avoid sipping sports and intra-workout drinks for a long period.
- Drink with a straw so your teeth are less exposed to the acid and sugar found in the sports drinks.
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. Wait an hour, however, after consuming the sports drink before brushing. This allows enamel to harden.
- Protect your teeth by chewing sugar-free gum. Doing so helps stimulate saliva flow to help protect the teeth.
Remember to schedule regular dental exams to ensure that your sports drink consumption hasn’t damaged your smile.