They Rehydrate and Recharge but Wreak Havoc on Your Teeth
You just finished a strenuous workout or you’ve got a long day ahead – so what do you reach for? If you’re like a lot of people, you chug a sports drink or gulp down an energy drink. It may make you feel better short-term, but your teeth definitely won’t feel better long term. Research has shown that prolonged consumption of sports or energy drinks could lead to erosive wear on teeth, according to studies by the International Association for Dental Research and Academy of General Dentistry.
The studies found that an alarming increase in the consumption of sports drinks, especially among adolescents, is causing irreversible damage to teeth—specifically, the high acidity levels in the drinks. With a reported 30 to 50 percent of U.S. teens consuming energy drinks, and as many as 62 percent consuming at least one sports drink per day, it is important that parents and young adults know about the downside of these drinks. Research looked specifically at the way sports drinks affected dentin, the dental tissue under enamel that determines the size and shape of teeth.
Studies found that sports and energy beverages can damage tooth enamel more so than soda — due to a combination of acid components, sugars, and additives. Any beverage that has high acid content can weaken the enamel, making the teeth more susceptible to bacteria that can sneak into the cracks and crevices in the teeth. Sugar can exacerbate the situation, encouraging the bacterial growth. Sugar is bad, and acid is bad and many of these drinks have both. The combination can cause irreparable damage.
Harmful effects include:
Tooth enamel erosion, corrupting the glossy outer layer of the tooth.
Sensitive teeth to touch and temperature changes.
Susceptibility to cavities and decay.
The researchers found that damage to enamel was evident after only five days of exposure to sports drinks, although energy drinks showed a significantly greater potential to damage teeth than sports drinks. Bacteria convert sugar to acid, and it’s the acid bath that damages enamel, not the sugar directly. By incorporating a high acid load in a drink, we are just cutting out the middleman on the way to tooth decay.
If sports drinks become your soft drink of choice (your fluid), you run the real risk of very significant effects because they are very acidic. You could see etching on teeth which is actually eroding the dentin if you have exposed roots.
There may be a role for sports drinks for rehydration among endurance athletes under intense training conditions, but they make little sense for anyone else.
Athletes and even sports enthusiasts don’t have to give up their sports drinks completely. The most important factor is exposure. Drinking a sports beverage in one sitting is not as damaging to your teeth as sipping on one throughout the day.
How to displace harmful Sports Drink effects:
Sip through a straw to help bypass tooth surfaces.
Drink plenty of water to flush the mouth.
Wait at least an hour to brush teeth, otherwise you will be spreading acid onto the tooth surfaces, increasing the erosive action.
Energy drinks are the worst culprits. The acidity levels vary among brands and flavors of energy drinks, but caused twice as much damage as the sports drinks.
The big misconception is that energy and sports drinks are healthier than soda for oral health. Sugar may rot your teeth, but acid in energy and sports drinks will also do some irreversible damage to those pearly whites, say researchers. Science tells us that individual susceptibility to both dental cavities and tooth erosion varies depending on a person’s dental hygiene behavior, lifestyle, total diet and genetic make-up.
If you are absolutely unable to give up these drinks, the best advice is to minimize drinking and rinse with water afterwards.
Sources: KnowYourTeeth.com, Web MD, CNN
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