Oral Hygiene & Sports Drinks
Summer is just around the corner and so is the hot weather. Families, and kids, will be outside playing all day long. When you reach for something to cool off with, WATER is your best bet. Many times sports drinks are used to rehydrate and get back some of that lost energy from sports. But, sports drinks have the potential to RUIN YOUR TEETH!!!
Dr. Yana V. Newman and her team at Bordentown Braces and Cream Ridge Orthodontics want to make you aware of the fact that sports drinks can cause damage to healthy teeth. Even more dangerous is the ability for sports drinks to “erode” your teeth around the brackets on your teeth while you are in orthodontic treatment. What you start to see on your teeth is whitish spots on the teeth. This is “demineralized” enamel. The sports drinks are actually reducing the minerals in the enamel and dentin of the teeth. The enamel under the braces isn’t affected though because its covered up by the brackets. So when the braces come off there is a good chance you will have white spots on the teeth as a result of the demineralized enamel.
Dental erosion is the next step after demineralized enamel. It occurs when tooth structure is lost. And, with the continued exposure to acidic substances like sports drinks, soda or candy dental erosion is surely going to occur as your enamel and dentin is weakened and lost.
Everyone is aware that candy and soda aren’t good for your teeth. However, not everyone knows that sports drinks are just as bad for your teeth, maybe even worse. Also, energy drinks and some flavored waters have the potential to be just just as harmful if they contain citrus flavoring.
Is dental erosion only due to sports drinks? No. There are several other factors that can contribute to dental erosion. When we get older, our teeth naturally lose enamel as it thins over time. Dental hygiene also plays a big role in dental erosion. If your teeth are kept clean and brushed well, then plaque cannot collect on your teeth and this will contribute to greater longevity for your teeth.
Remineralization is the process of building minerals needed for strong teeth. Your teeth have a biofilm coating for protection. But when the teeth are exposed to acids, the biofilm decreases and your teeth lose their surface minerals.
Drinking sports drinks is incredibly harmful to the long term health of your teeth! A product such as Gatorade has water as it’s No. 1 ingredient, sugar as the No.2 ingredient and Citric acid as the #3 ingredient. Citric acid invites the growth of acidogenic bacteria and results in erosion of teeth. Also, citric acid forms complexes with calcium and decreases the effectiveness of the biofilm. That is the reason why sports drinks have been reported to cause three times as much damage to enamel when compared to soft drinks. Phosphoric acid, which is a component of soft drinks, is not as harmful as citric acid.
The most effective way to protect your teeth and prevent dental erosion is to avoid sports drinks altogether and reach for a water instead. For most sports and physical activities, water is enough to keep you well hydrated and feeling good. Another option is to look for a low sugar version of a sports drink that you like. While these sports drinks may not give you the “pep” that the traditional sports drink version has, they will not contain citric acid and sugar….and that means better dental health!!!!
If you do drink soda or sports drinks, do not sip it over a long period of time. Increasing the number of contacts with the sports drinks and soda intensifies the problem. DO NOT BRUSH your teeth after you drink them either; this makes the problem even worse. The enamel is weakened by the acid. It takes approximately a half hour of saliva contact on the teeth to have some recovery and repair before the enamel can tolerate the roughness of the toothbrush. I know that this sounds counterintuitive, but remember that brushing after having sports drinks is not a good idea.
In addition to the damage that sports drinks can cause to your teeth, as mentioned above, they are full of sugar. That being said, they aren’t good for your overall health since its been shown that there’s a relationship between consumption of acidic (sweet) drinks, dental erosion, obesity and diabetes in children and adults. The best advice that I can give is to be mindful of what you put into your body so that no harmful effects occur, whether it be to your overall health or your teeth.
The supermarket shelves are stocked with tons of sports drinks and flavored waters. We recommend that you read the labels carefully and thoroughly. Take the time to check for sugar content and citric acid in the list of ingredients. If they are one of the first few ingredients, then we recommend that you avoid them. Just that one thing will contribute to better dental health for a lifetime!!!