How Sports Drinks Can Damage Teeth

How Sports Drinks Can Damage Teeth

Posted by Dr. Thomas Flavin Jun 21,2021

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Sports drinks are beverages that athletes drink during physical activity. Not all sports drinks are the same, however. Some contain carbohydrates, electrolytes, and flavoring, while others are packed with sugar. Both types can cause dental damage, but sugar sports drinks are the worst. Sports drinks with a high sugar content can erode teeth. This is because sugar encourages plaque buildup, and plaque is the primary cause of tooth decay. Plaque buildup creates acids that eat away at tooth enamel. It can also cause cavities. Additionally, the caffeine in energy drinks can be dehydrating, be causing dry mouth and a raised risk for tooth decay.

When it comes to sports drinks, research has found that the acidity level of the drink has a lot to do with whether it will harm or benefit a person's teeth. According to findings published in the Journal of Dentistry for Children, researchers found that energy drinks erode enamel more than other beverages due to the acid content of the sugar in the beverage. It also cited a study that found that 36 percent of teens and young adults had tooth erosion due to drinking soft drinks and sports drinks. This occurs because the phosphoric acid and sugar found in these drinks weaken and dissolve the tooth enamel—meaning it can even lead to cavities.

Drinking sports drinks during or after vigorous exercise can also be problematic to dental health, as this type of beverage can expose your teeth to a higher concentration of sugar over an extended period of time.

Many popular brands of energy drinks also contain ingredients such as citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, and phosphoric acid, all of which can contribute to tooth erosion. Acidic foods and drinks can also be more damaging if consumed after brushing the teeth; dentists recommend waiting at least an hour after eating or drinking something acidic before brushing.

If you are an athlete, be sure to rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash as soon as possible after vigorous exercises to reduce the effects of a potential acid attack on your teeth. Try to drink your sports drink with a meal to reduce the amount of sugar that is directly in contact with your teeth, and rinse your mouth with a fluoride mouthwash to further protect your smile from damage.

What You Can Do

Although it is difficult to avoid consuming these types of beverages, there are some things you can do to avoid further damaging your teeth. First, be sure to rinse your mouth with water after drinking a sports drink. You can also brush your teeth immediately after drinking a sports drink to help remove the sugar and acid from the teeth, which helps restore their protective properties. Finally, if you consume sports drinks often, talk to your dentist about ways you can protect your teeth from them in the future. They may recommend using toothpaste that has fluoride in it to help protect the teeth from developing tooth decay and cavities.

To learn more, contact Healthy Smiles of Saint Louis at 4224 Watson Rd, St. Louis, MO 63109, or call (314) 832-1366. 

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