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If you are an athlete, you may regularly consume sports drinks, which taste delicious and contain electrolytes to keep you hydrated. However, these beverages come with some serious disadvantages when it comes to oral health. In this blog post, we will discuss the dangers that these drinks can pose to your teeth. You may very well decide to look for other ways to stay hydrated while you are enjoying your time on the field or court.
Dental Crisis Among Elite Athletes
A study published in the British Dental Journal screened 352 elite and professional athletes, many of whom were on track to compete in the Olympics. Researchers asked the athletes about both their oral hygiene habits and their sports drink consumption. The majority of the athletes who filled out the questionnaire brushed their teeth twice a day, and about 40 percent had seen a dentist recently. However, about 80 percent regularly consumed sports drinks. The high rate of sports drink consumption is likely a main culprit behind the substantial rate of dental problems amongst the athletes.
Why Are Sports Drinks So Bad?
There are two reasons why sports drinks pose a real threat to dental health:
- Sugar. Many sports drinks contain outrageous amounts of sugar. For example, a 20-ounce serving of regular Gatorade has about 36 grams of sugar, which is not much less than a typical can of soda. When sugar interacts with bacteria in the mouth, it produces plaque. Plaque, in turn, leads to cavities.
- Acidity. Although some sports drinks have reduced amounts of sugar (or no sugar at all), they can still damage teeth due to their high levels of acidity. The citric acid used to flavor such products can erode the tooth enamel and be a major contributor to dental decay and sensitivity.
What You Can Do
Athletes are not the only ones who are vulnerable to sports drink-related dental problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 80 percent of the population has at least one cavity. While not all such cavities are related to sports drinks, it stands to reason that reducing your sports drink consumption could reduce your risk of suffering from dental decay.
Plain water, along with electrolyte-containing fruits and veggies (for example, bananas are a great source of potassium), can help you stay hydrated while you pursue your athletic passions. Regularly visiting your dentist for cleanings and checkups can also play a huge role in making sure that your oral health thrives for many years to come.
Sports drinks and your oral health have a negative relationship. If you regularly consume these beverages, now is the time to adjust your habits — your teeth will thank you!
About the Author
Dr. Jared Jacobskind earned his dental degree from Stony Brook University’s School of Dental Medicine. He is a skilled dentist who is proud to serve the residents of Manchester at First Line Dental. If you would like to talk with him and our team about how you can make wise choices every day to protect your teeth from damage, contact us at 860-327-5990.