If you take a look around the gym, your kid’s sporting activities, or a professional sports ring, you’ll likely see people drinking plenty of sports drinks. We’ve been told they rehydrate us better, make us stronger, and improve our performance. But what a lot of people don’t know, is that they aren’t much more effective than water and that they even cause tooth decay! That’s right, even the healthiest of athletes with great diets and activity levels can have just as many cavities as people who enjoy sodas because of the effects that sports drinks have on their teeth.
Why is this? Sports drinks contain natural or artificial sweeteners that convert to acids once they are in your mouth. That’s the body’s way of digesting them. Since it’s in a liquid form, these acids can coat all of the surface areas of the teeth…especially areas between the teeth and in the deep grooves and pits on the chewing surfaces. Most athletes will drink their sports drinks over an extended period of time, allowing the acids to have a longer contact time (and more destruction) on the enamel.
What can you do instead? If you’re going to drink a sports drink, try to have it all at once and then immediately rinse your mouth out with water. Or better yet, just keep water with you. Water contains fluoride, so it helps strengthen your teeth as it rinses away bacteria in your mouth. If you’re breathing through your mouth (as many athletes do), water helps prevent dry teeth, which are more susceptible to tooth decay. Water is cheaper, has zero calories, and rehydrates you exactly the way nature intended.
If you’re an athlete, it’s important to get your routine dental cleanings and checkups to make sure your sporting habits haven’t actually done anything to your smile!
Posted on behalf of Grateful Dental
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