Sports Drinks and Your Teeth

Sports drinks are a staple of both young people and adults alike for many different reasons. Many sports drinks contain electrolytes, for example, which can be helpful to maintain energy levels when engaging in physically intensive activities. Sports drinks are also seen as a tasty alternative to water when it comes to staying hydrated on a warm summer day. Many people don’t realize that sports drinks also bring with them negative effects in the form of what they do to your teeth, however. Sports drinks can have a negative effect on both children and adults if the people who enjoy them aren’t exceedingly careful.

Acid

When discussing drinks like soda, it’s generally understood that sugar is the leading cause of tooth decay and tooth rot in these types of liquids. Sodas in general have so much sugar that the negative effects of these types of drinks are seen almost immediately, regardless of the age of the person in question. The general assumption is that because most sports drinks contain very little sugar and, in some cases no sugar at all, these types of negative effects won’t be seen. The reality of the situation, however, could not be farther from the truth.

The tooth-related danger to both children and adults in sports drinks and energy drinks comes not from the sugar content but from their general acidity. A recent study published by the General Dentistry journal revealed that these types of drinks contain such a significant amount of acid that they begin destroying the teeth of the person drinking them in as little as five days.

The study is even more disheartening when you consider that between 30 and 50 percent of teenagers in the United States of America drink these types of beverages regularly. Up to 62 percent of children of the same age drink at least one sports drink per day.

Damage

When you take into consideration the frequency at which many American teenagers drink sports drinks, the damage being done to their oral health falls into a few distinct categories. For starters, the acid level in these types of sports drinks will immediately begin to damage the enamel of each tooth.

Because enamel cannot be regrown after it is damaged, the effects are irreparable. When the enamel on a tooth becomes damaged, that tooth becomes sensitive both to the touch and to extreme cases of hot and cold temperatures. This will be most obviously noticeable while the teenager is eating or drinking.

Once the enamel is damaged, the teeth in question also become more susceptible to cavities and to decay in general.

While adults do not drink sports drinks at nearly the frequently that teenagers do (at least as far as statistics are concerned), the damage can still be quite severe. It is not, however, quite as bad.

Recommendations

If a person insists on maintaining a steady diet of sports drinks regardless of there age, it is important that they take a few key steps to protect their teeth in any way that they can. It is recommend that people who consume these types of drinks on a regular basis rinse their mouths out with water immediately after consumption. Doing so will prevent excess liquid (which contains the acidity that does the damage in the first place) from resting on the teeth for too long, which will go a long way towards protecting teeth for the foreseeable future.

If water is not an option, chewing a piece of sugar-free gum will also have largely the same effect. It is also recommend that people wait at least one hour to brush their teeth after drinking sports drinks. Brushing sooner could cause the toothbrush itself to spread the acid around the teeth, which would cause a larger amount of damage than if it were just left alone.