Sport drinks, like Gatorade and Powerade, are popular for both children and adults. Many sport drinks contain electrolytes and vitamins that are helpful to maintain energy during sporting activities. Others prefer tasty sports drinks as an alternative to water to stay hydrated during warm weather. While sport drinks do have benefits, many overlook the negative effects of these drinks if the consumers are not careful, including added sugars.
Dr. Jacob McLauchlin and his team want to make sure you understand how sports drinks can cause damage to healthy teeth. The general assumption is that sports drinks contain low to no sugar, and therefore do not contribute to tooth decay. However, this is far from the truth. Tooth-related damage from sports drinks does not come from only the sugar content but from the acidity in the drink. Along with sugar, acid can also cause teeth erosion.
Dental decay is common and occurs as we age due to diminishing tooth enamel. However, sugar and acidity in food and drinks will speed up the process of erosion. Enamel cannot be regrown after it is damaged, so erosion is permanent and eroded teeth are more susceptible to cavities and even tooth damage.
The easiest way to prevent harmful oral effects from sports drinks is to avoid them and drink water. However, if you prefer sports drinks it is important to follow a few steps to protect your teeth. Dr. McLauchlin recommends rinsing your mouth with water immediately after consumption. Doing so will prevent excess sugar and acid from staying on your teeth. Rinsing and cleaning your mouth guard will also decrease the risk of having sugars and acid left behind. Dr. McLauchlin also recommends waiting at least one hour to brush your teeth after consumption. Acid and sugar weaken the enamel and brushing too soon could further weaken the teeth.
There are many sport drinks and flavored waters sold today so take the time to read the labels. When selecting a drink, Dr. McLauchlin advises you to check the sugar content and acid in the ingredients. If sugar or acids are one of the top ingredients on the label, Dr. McLauchlin suggests avoiding them.
Just as an athlete must care for his or her muscles, one must also maintain oral health to make sure they have a lasting smile to support a healthy body. Taking care of your teeth after consuming sugary beverages like sports drinks and good at home oral care will prevent your risk of tooth erosion.