ACID + SUGAR = DOUBLE TROUBLE
Summertime often means plenty of sports and activities for kids. Your child is more than likely exerting themselves in hot and humid weather and keeping them hydrated is a major concern. Some parents may turn to sports drinks for getting the job done, but these drinks may be the cause of more trips to the pediatric dentist for oral health problems.
Sports drinks can be harmful to teeth due to their high sugar content and high levels of acidity, according to the International Association for Dental Research. While most consumers believe that they are drinking something healthy when consuming a sports drink, the truth is that these beverages can be more damaging to teeth than soda.
The high acid content present in most sports drinks is enough to weaken tooth enamel, which makes the teeth more susceptible to bacteria and tooth decay. Weakened, or softened, tooth enamel can also lead to:
- Damage to the tissue under the enamel as well as the enamel of the teeth
- Hypersensitivity (extreme sensitivity to temperature changes or touch)
- Susceptibility to staining of the teeth
The sugar contained in most sports drinks worsens the situation by encouraging bacterial growth once it settles on the teeth, sports drinks can be harmful to your teeth by promoting dental cavities.
PREVENTING TOOTH DAMAGE FROM SPORTS DRINKS
Exposure is an important factor in whether sports drinks can be harmful to your teeth. Drinking a sports beverage all at once is much better for your child’s teeth than sipping it leisurely over several hours. Another preventive measure includes having your child rinse their mouth out with water to cleanse their teeth after consumption.
Sports drinks were created to replace lost electrolytes after intense physical activity or exercise. Using them for that purpose alone will help ensure that your child is not over-consuming them and exposing his/her teeth to unnecessary sugars and acid.
Other tips to reduce damage to teeth from sports drinks include:
- Use a straw for sports drinks to minimize contact with teeth
- Purchase dental-friendly sports drinks (low sugar/low acid)
- Alternate sips of sports drinks with sips of water to rinse mouth
- Do not rinse mouth guards with sports drinks
To allow enamel to re-harden, do not brush teeth for at least 45 minutes after consuming a sports drink. The softened enamel can often be damaged by the abrasiveness of the tooth brush or toothpaste.
When thinking about how to prevent dental cavities, moderation is the key to consuming sports drinks with respect to dental health. Research suggests that consuming large quantities is a top contributor to tooth decay, especially in frequent situations unrelated to sports, such as at dinnertime.
Drinking a sports drink once in a while after a workout or game is not a serious threat to your teeth; just remember to limit quantity and frequency. If you have dental concerns related to sports drink consumption or are looking for a pediatric dental team for your family, please contact us.
TRY HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES
Sports drinks are everywhere, including school cafeterias, because they are thought to be a safe alternative for children to consume. While they may be a healthier alternative to sodas, these drinks are just as capable of causing tooth decay. The following healthy sports drink alternatives have been associated with improved performance and quicker recovery:
Coconut Water – Great for rehydrating and it comes with wholesome nutrients instead of added sugar and artificial flavors.
Bananas – A favorite of runners and gym aficionados, when combined with water, it’s just as effective as getting those electrolytes from a bottle of Gatorade, in addition to potassium, to keep those Charley Horses away.
Chocolate Milk – It’s true, in moderation of course! For recovery, the optimal mix is the right balance of carbs and protein, and this beverage has just that, including Vitamins A & D, iron, and calcium to build up strong bones.
Do It Yourself (D.I.Y.) – Create your own healthy homemade sports drink with all-natural flavors using your child’s favorite fruits and mix it up in the blender with some water for a grab-and-go refresher.
At Children’s Dental Health, we encourage healthy, year-long oral care habits to our patients. Not only will limiting your child’s consumption of sports drinks benefit their teeth, but also their entire body.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; International Association for Dental Research