Are sports drinks good for your health? That’s debatable.
If you regularly consume sports drinks in order to rehydrate after a long run or an intense workout, you may think you’re doing your body a favor. While these drinks do help your body to replenish water, electrolytes, and minerals, they are not so good for your teeth. By drinking one sports drink a day or even a few each week, you could be negatively impacting your dental health.
Negative Aspects of Sports Drinks:
- Highly Acidic. One aspect of sports drinks that you may not be aware of is their extreme acidity. Acids corrode tooth enamel significantly, even down to the dentin, the softer layer beneath the enamel. This makes teeth weak and susceptible to decay.
- High Sugar Content. Another aspect of sports drinks is that they contain a lot of sugar. Every time you take a sip you are bathing your teeth in sugar, which feeds the bacteria in your mouth that cause cavities, possibly resulting in the need for fillings or even root canals.
- Stain Teeth. As the acid corrodes your enamel, it makes your teeth more exposed to staining. Even the artificial food dyes that are often found sports drinks can stain your teeth.
- Cause Teeth Sensitivity. As the acidity weakens your enamel, it can cause your teeth to be more sensitive to cold, heat, and sugar.
How To Protect Your Teeth:
Here are some ways to protect your teeth from the harmful effects of sports drinks:
- Take Preventive Measures. If you feel that you cannot stay sufficiently hydrated without the help of sports drinks, try these tips: wash your mouth out with water or brush your teeth as soon as possible after drinking them.
- Drink Healthier Sports Drinks. There are some sports drinks with lower sugar content and lower acidity that will do less harm to your teeth. Beware of artificial sweeteners, however, which can be just as harmful as sugar.
- Drink Just Electrolytes. You can purchase electrolytes that can be mixed with regular water for better hydration with less sugar and acidity. These sometimes come in a variety of flavors but typically do not contain sugar.
- Avoid Drinking Sports Drinks. Of course the best option for your dental health is to avoid sports drinks altogether.
How to Maintain Healthy Teeth for a Lifetime
A foundation for good dental health begins in childhood and continues through a person’s lifetime. By taking care of your baby teeth, you pave the way for healthy permanent teeth. The cornerstones of dental health are:
- Diet. What you eat and drink has a huge impact on your dental health. If you develop healthy habits in childhood, those habits will continue into adulthood. Sugary beverages and foods can do damage to baby teeth as well as permanent teeth. Once permanent teeth are damaged, the damage cannot be undone.
- Self Care. Brushing, flossing, and swishing with fluoride mouthwash is the best way to take care of your teeth between visits to your dentist. Brushing is recommended at least twice a day and possibly more often if you consume a regular diet that is high in sugar.
- Professional Care. Seeing your dentist twice a year for professional cleanings and an oral evaluation is an important part of preserving your teeth. Dental cleanings remove plaque and tartar from your teeth that could lead to decay. An oral examination and X-Rays can alert the dentist to any problems that may need to be addressed, such as cavities.
- Fluoride treatments. Fluoride is especially helpful if you’re at high risk of developing dental caries, or cavities. Cavities occur when bacteria build up on teeth and gums and form a sticky layer of plaque. Plaque produces an acid that erodes teeth and gum tissue. If the plaque breaks down the enamel layer, bacteria can infect and harm the nerves and blood at the core of the tooth.