Sports Drinks, Energy Drinks and Your Teeth
A common misconception is that energy drinks and sports drinks are a healthy choice. These drinks are especially popular among teens and young adults. Unfortunately, they cause damage to tooth enamel, increasing risk of decay.
Every time that we snack or sip on our sports drink we are not only feeding ourselves but the bacteria in our mouth. These bacteria produce acid which lowers the pH in our mouth and saliva. These drinks also contain acid for flavoring adding to the acid problem. As our mouth becomes more acidic the mineral of our teeth begins to dissolve. Keep this up and small demineralized white patches will develop on our teeth. Eventually these patches become holes needing repair from our favorite dentist.
So why don’t we constantly get holes in our teeth? We have our own built in super hero – saliva. Saliva returns the lost minerals to our teeth following an acid attack. But it can only do so much.
Do we need sports drinks?
If you are training for less than 1-1.5 hours, then no! So, swap out the sports drink for water and you will be doing yourself a huge favor. If you feel you must have flavored water then sit down, drink it and then move on. Don’t wander around sipping- you are constantly exposing yourself to increased acid levels.
Ways to protect your teeth while training:
1.Always brush and floss your teeth before exercising- this will remove the amount of plaque and bacteria present as a starting point.
2. Drink and eat as instructed during the training session.
3. Finish with a drink of plain water to rehydrate quickly and begin neutralizing the acid level. Also consider chewing sugar free gum to stimulate saliva flow.
4. If you need to eat after training consider having a dairy product, in particular some cheese to help prevent tooth decay.
5. Avoid brushing immediately after exercising, the enamel is softer after an acid attack and brushing can remove small amounts of the softened enamel.
6. Ensure you are brushing and flossing regularly- 2 times a day.
7. Have regular dental check-ups.
Sports drinks are not necessary in our daily life – we survived without them! However, they are a recommended training tool. Remember to care for your teeth when using them and keep your smile happy!