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The Truth About Sports Drinks: Are They Good or Bad For Teeth?

Thursday - February 28th, 2019
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Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash

Signs of spring are popping up here and there, making us excited to get outside and do something active! We’re also excited to kick off the MLS and MLB’s spring seasons. In thinking about how these athletes train for their seasons and take care of their bodies, we wondered, how healthy are sports drinks, and how beneficial are they to our oral health?

From a health perspective, experts say that sports drinks aren’t suitable for daily consumption, unless they are being consumed by high performance athletes who are losing massive amounts of electrolytes through their sweat. Sports drinks are therefore recommended for athletes engaging in prolonged exercise without rest.

From an oral health perspective, sports drinks aren’t all that great either. The main ingredients found in all sports drinks are water, carbs (aka sugar) and electrolytes. The amount of sugar in one Gatorade Thirst Quencher is 36 grams! These sugars increase the mouth’s overall acidity which attracts harmful tooth enamel destroying bacteria. When the mouth’s acidity is just right, this type of bacteria attacks enamel, causing tooth decay and cavities. Unlike the skin on your body, tooth enamel does not replenish itself. So unfortunately, once yours has eroded, there’s no chance of getting it back.

To reduce the amount of damage to your enamel while drinking sports drinks, you can:
• Use a straw
• Alternate between water sports drinks
• Dilute the drink with water
• Neutralize the mouth’s pH by drinking water and chewing gum

There are lots of pros and cons when it comes to sports drinks. Before grabbing that Gatorade when you’re headed to practice, consider using a straw, diluting the drink with water or passing on the sports drink altogether and grabbing a bottle of water.

Any questions we might not have addressed here, you can ask your dentist.