Summer is here, so a tasty and refreshing sports drink can really hit the spot on a warm day. They provide good hydration and a fair amount of electrolytes, which are essential when you or your kids are especially active. However, they could also lead to some rather serious tooth damage. That’s why a dentist usually recommends water over sports drinks. Read on to learn more about how a sports drink can harm your smile.
Sports Drink Ingredient List
No surprise, water is at the top of the ingredient list for sports drinks. But keep reading and you’re likely to see sugar and citric acid close behind water. Those two ingredients are where the danger lies. Most people know about the connection between sugar and cavities. But did you know that citric acid, which is a preservative used to enhance flavor and extend shelf life, could erode tooth enamel?
The General Dentistry journal published a study, finding that sports drinks have so much acid in them that they can begin to strip enamel from your teeth in as few as five days. That has the potential to add up to a lot of cavities. The problem is more prevalent among American teenagers: between 30 to 50 percent of this population drinks these beverages, and 62 percent of those have at least one sports drink every day.
Tooth Sensitivity and Tooth Decay
Downing a sports drink after a workout can lead to both tooth sensitivity as well as tooth decay. Citric acid begins to damage enamel as soon as you drink. As more sports drinks are consumed, more damage occurs until eventually the enamel thins to the point that your teeth become sensitive to foods and beverages that are hot, cold, sweet and acidic.
Damaged enamel may lead to erosion, which is how a cavity begins. So even though enamel is the hardest material in the human body, it simply cannot stand up to repeated exposure to the sugar and citric acid in sports drinks.
Ways to Protect Your Teeth
A dentist will always recommend drinking water when you’re thirsty. In fact, occasionally drinking tap water is a good thing, because it’s treated with fluoride, a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel.
However, if you’re really craving a sports drink, try to remember to rinse with water afterwards so you can wash away the acid that may still be lying on your teeth. If you can’t rinse, then chew a piece of sugar-free gum.
Teeth sensitivity and decay should not be taken lightly at any age. Contact your dentist today to schedule a checkup.
About the Author
Dr. David W. Cleveland received his undergraduate degree from Duke University and then went on to earn his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from The Ohio State University. He is a member of the American Dental Association and several other professional organizations. He practices at Darby Creek Dental and can be reached for more information through his website.