Water is essential to life, but sometimes we get bored with it or simply want something else to drink throughout the day. Some drinks, even though they’re considered to be “healthy” can actually contribute to an increased level of tooth decay in patients that otherwise have a balanced diet and good oral hygiene. Athletes that are healthy, physically fit, and brush their teeth really well are sometimes susceptible to rampant tooth decay for this very reason. More tooth decay means more fillings, crowns, and other dental restorations.
3 of these “healthy” drinks are probably found in your kitchen as well. What are they? Milk, Juice, and Sports Drinks are the culprit! While these aren’t necessarily bad for you to drink, the problem is that most people sip on them more frequently, for longer periods throughout the day, because they’re considered to be healthy drinks. Therein lies the problem: long-term exposure times to the teeth.
Liquids other than water, whether or not they are healthy for you, cause a change in the pH levels of the mouth, and will also cause acid production as the natural sugars are broken down for digestion. More exposures to these natural acids will target areas between the teeth and deep grooves in the chewing surface of back teeth. Brushing doesn’t remove these acids, so frequent exposures allow cavities to develop very quickly.
Limiting these drinks to one serving and not sipping on them throughout the day will reduce the time that acid has in contact with the teeth. Rinsing with water afterward and supplementing with a fluoride rinse at the end of every day can help keep teeth cleaner, stronger, and decrease the likelihood of cavities developing between all of your teeth.
Posted on behalf of Patrick O’Brien DMD, Carolina Comfort Dental
Lots of very healthy, athletic people may be doing something that is very harmful to their dental health without even thinking about it. A recent study of triathletes showed that when surveyed, only a few thought themselves to be at risk for tooth decay. In reality, more than 80% of them showed an extremely high risk. What was the problem? They drink sports drinks on a regular basis. Even though they worked out extensively and were careful with their diets, the sports drinks that they consumed were wreaking havoc on these triathlete’s teeth.
Sports drinks are highly acidic because of the sugar and acidic juices found in their ingredients. Because liquid sugars can reach areas easier, they are often associated with increased dental decay. Sports drinks are scientifically proven to cause erosion of tooth enamel! The more frequently your teeth are exposed to sugar and an acidic environment, the greater the amount of erosion in the tooth enamel and more likely you are to develop tooth decay.
Some sports drinks are even worse on your teeth than drinking soda. So should you give them up completely? You don’t have to give up all things acidic, but you should limit them. Instead of sipping on a sports drink when you workout, drink it all at once and then rinse your mouth out with water. Or better yet, bring water with you instead and safe the acidic stuff for later.
If you have enamel erosion your dentist can apply a professional flouride treatment or prescribe a high dose fluoride gel to use at home which will aid in enamel remineralization. Fluoride is useful for preventing further erosion and alleviating symptoms such as tooth sensitivity. It can also delay or prevent decay due to past enamel damage.
According to a recent study published in General Dentistry, add sports drinks to the list of things that are bad for you. Sure, sports drinks are great for rehydrating and replacing carbohydrates and electrolytes after physical exercise, but it turns out that sports drinks and energy drinks are terrible for your teeth.
The authors of the study submerged tooth enamel in a variety of sport drinks and energy drinks for 15 minutes followed by submerging the tooth enamel for two hours in artificial saliva. The process was repeated four times a day for five days. At the end of just five days, there was noticeable damage to the tooth enamel.
The study concluded that the high level of acidity in sports and energy drinks can damage tooth enamel in just a few days leading to tooth sensitivity and tooth decay. Energy drinks caused the most damage which was not surprising since the acidity of the energy drinks was higher than the sports drinks.
It has long been known that sugar and sugary drinks cause tooth decay, but it’s not the sugar that damages the tooth enamel. Naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth break down the sugar and the process creates acids that eat away at the tooth enamel. Sports drinks and energy drinks have high levels of acidity that attack the teeth directly.
The problem is most widespread among teenagers who consume sports and energy drinks to enhance performance and energy levels. Sports and energy drinks are seen as healthier alternatives to soft drinks, which may explain the higher rate of cavities and dental fillings noted in children recently. Dental experts recommend avoiding sports drinks as a way to limit damage to your teeth. However, if you or your teenager are going to drink sports drinks, wash them down with a drink of water to help reduce the amount of acid that sits on the teeth.
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