Sugars and acid are two things your smile could do without. Unfortunately, your favorite sports drink is likely delivering both. People of all ages consume sports drinks under the assumption that it is overall good for them, hydrating and improving athletic performance. However, what most people do not realize is that sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade contain harmful sugars and acids that destroy tooth enamel and put your smile at risk for decay.
According to a recent study published in the journal General Dentistry, energy and sports drinks contain so much acid that they start destroying teeth after only five days of consistent use. Up to 62 percent of American teens drink sports drinks at least once a day.
What makes sports drinks so bad? They contain either natural or artificial sweeteners that convert to acids once they enter your mouth; this is your body’s attempt to start digesting them. To make matters worse, this mixture is in a liquid form, which means these acids literally bathe your teeth on all surfaces including deep grooves and pits. The fact that most athletes sip on sports drinks over a longer period of time (during a practice or game) does not help either. This gives sugar and acids even more time to attack your tooth enamel and cause irreversible damage.
If you are an avid sports drink guzzler, look for signs that your beverage of choice has already caused damage. Tell your dentist if you have tooth sensitivity, which is an indicator of enamel erosion. Most importantly, make sure you visit your dentist for cavity detection every six months.
Obviously, the best way to prevent dental damage caused by sports drinks is to opt for H2O instead. Water is the best way to hydrate the body and you won’t be putting your smile in harms way. Water also contains fluoride, so it helps strengthen your teeth as it rinses away bacteria in your mouth. If you must grab a sports drink on occasion, try not to drink it over a long period of time and rinse your mouth with water immediately following.
As an athlete, you’ve likely worked hard to keep your body healthy and looking its best – so make sure you are doing the same for your smile!
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,