If you are active, or if your kids are involved in sports, there is a good chance that sports drinks are part of your life. People reach for sports drinks because of their ability to rehydrate and replenish electrolytes after periods of exertion. However, while sports drinks may be a favorite of professional and amateur athletes alike, they definitely don’t rank highly with dentists. In fact, many dentists consider sports drinks to be as harmful to teeth as sodas. Here is look at how sports drinks could be affecting your teeth or the teeth of your student-athletes.
Sugars and Tooth Decay
Many sports drinks contain a significant amount of sugar. Some popular sports drinks contain more sugar than a can of soda. When you drink a sugary sports drink, you are bathing your teeth in a sugary solution that will stick to the surfaces long after you’ve finished the drink. This sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth, which in turn causes tooth decay to occur. Drinking something sugary tends to expose your teeth to greater amounts of sugar than eating a piece of sugary candy, both because you’re likely to consume the drink over a longer period of time and because the liquid will coat all of your teeth.
Acids and Enamel Loss
Choosing a sugar-free sports drink won’t save your teeth from negative effects. Sports drinks, even sugar-free ones, are extremely acidic. The acid weakens your tooth enamel, which can lead to serious consequences, including teeth sensitivity and greater vulnerability to decay. Enamel cannot be replaced, so any that is lost from drinking sports drinks is gone for good.
Water is sufficient for most people who need to rehydrate after activity. Water with electrolytes is also a safe alternative. For people seeking the electrolyte restoration, bananas and coconut water are lower in sugars and acids and thus safer for your teeth. If you do drink sports drinks, consider using a straw to reduce the amount of tooth exposure and rinsing your mouth with water when you’re done.
Do you have more questions about habits that could be impacting your oral health? At University Associates in Dentistry, we can help you make the right choices to reduce your risk of gum disease, missing teeth, and cavities. Call (312) 704-5511 to make an appointment with a dentist in Chicago.