Sports drinks have become incredibly popular in the last couple of decades, especially among young adults. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry estimates that 62% of teens consume at least one sports drink every day. Many people believe that these beverages are healthy, but are they? It’s true that they contain crucial electrolytes that are lost through sweat, so they are hydrating. But, unfortunately, you pay a high price for that hydration in terms of your dental health, even when you drink the sugar-free varieties. Want to learn a better way to stay hydrated? Keep reading below!
Why Are Sports Drinks Harmful For Your Teeth?
Many people are aware of how soda affects their oral health but studies have found that sports drinks can actually cause three times as much damage to your teeth. There are two main ingredients in sports drinks that are to blame:
- Acids – Even sugar-free sports drinks contain various types of acid (e.g. phosphoric acid, citric acid, and/or tartaric acid) that eat away at your enamel with every sip you take. Think of this the same way that acid rain wears away at a marble statue over time. There’s a similar process that happens to your teeth when they’re regularly exposed to acids.
- Sugar – Many people reach for sports drinks that contain both sugar and acid, leading to a “double whammy” that can be incredibly destructive to your teeth and cause extensive cavities.
Fortunately, there’s a way you can stay well-hydrated and maintain your athletic performance without putting your teeth at risk.
Alternatives To Sports Drinks
Here are several alternatives you can reach for during athletic activities:
- Put a generous pinch of sea salt into your water bottle. It contains minerals to replenish lost electrolytes.
- Drink plain water while active and keep fresh fruit on-hand for immediately afterward such as a banana, apple, berries, etc.
- Coconut water still has sugars, but it’s a better choice because it has considerably less sugar than sports drinks (and no acids), while also containing electrolytes.
Other Ways To Protect Your Teeth
Also, keep in mind that you can still have sports drinks occasionally, but make them the exception rather than your usual drink of choice. In addition, the following preventative habits will go a long way towards protecting your teeth from cavities:
- Brush and floss– Brushing at least twice a day and flossing once is the foundation of cavity prevention. Also, use a fluoride mouthwash to strengthen your enamel and make it more resistant to decay.
- Rinse your mouth with plain water– If you can’t brush and floss, simply swish with plain water several times after consuming anything with sugar or acids in it.
- Chew sugar-free gum– Sugar-free gum is a convenient way to neutralize acids and prevent cavities.
- Get regular checkups– Seeing a dentist regularly is crucial to make sure any small cavities are found and treated early on.
By simply being aware of the impact of sports drinks and making better choices on an everyday basis, you can protect your teeth and avoid major dental work, without sacrificing your athletic performance.
About the Author
Dr. Robert Long has been a family dentist for over 25 years and is a member of the American Dental Association, the Texas Dental Association, and the Academy of General Dentistry. To help his patients minimize cavities and other dental problems, he always encourages good everyday habits and dietary choices. If you have any questions about sports drinks or your overall dental health, he can be reached via his website.