How Do Sports Drinks Damage Your Teeth?
Sports drinks are a staple for young adults. If they contain electrolytes, they help sustain energy levels during physically challenging activities. During hot summer days, they are an attractive alternative to water for staying hydrated. Lots of people don’t realize these beverages can have adverse effects on teeth.
Sugar is widely recognized as a culprit in tooth decay. We know that sodas and fruit juices that contain lots of sugar should be used in moderation or avoided. The problem with sports drinks, even those with minimal amounts of sugar, is their acidity. This applies to both children and adults.
Why should you care about acid?
Tooth decay occurs when sugar combines with acid in your mouth and produces more acid which attacks your teeth. If you are drinking beverages that contain high levels of acidity and sugar, the acid attack weakens your tooth enamel making your teeth vulnerable to cavities. Some studies have found that a majority of teenagers drink at least one sports/energy drink a day.
Some of the damage from sports drinks comes from the manner in which they are consumed. Athletes often take frequent drinks during workouts or games, exposing their teeth to the levels of acidity and sugar over an extended period. It would be better if the drinks were just gulped in one sitting.
While water is generally the best way to quench thirst and keep your teeth strong, there are certain circumstances in which sports drinks are the better option. Here are some tips that can help reduce the damage:
- Rinse your mouth with water after consuming a sports drink.
- Alternate drinks of water with the sports beverage.
- Chew sugar-free gum after you finish a drink.
- Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. Brushing immediately after drinking acidic drinks such as sports drinks can cause severe corrosion of dentin, the layer below a tooth’s enamel.
- For shorter (1 hour or less) exercise or sports events skip the energy drink – water is adequate hydration.
Remember, healthy teeth make your healthy smile!
Dr. Nishan Halim
Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric restorative and cosmetic dentistry, as well as preventive dentistry, which is at the heart of this Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. He is committed to helping all his patients maintain healthy and attractive teeth. To find out more schedule an appointment at your convenience.