Are you an athlete who constantly consumes sports drinks to recharge after a game or practice? While these beverages might be a great source of energy, they can wreak serious harm to your teeth. According to a dentist, sports drinks can cause major damage to your tooth enamel, resulting in long-term oral health problems. To learn just how much damage sports drinks can do and how to protect your smile, keep reading below.
Oral Health Consequences of Sports Drinks
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that some of the most common oral health issues of athletes who frequently consume sports drinks include:
- Enamel erosion. Many sports drinks are highly acidic, wearing down the outermost layer of your teeth, the enamel. When enamel gets worn away, it exposes the dentin underneath, causing sensitivity.
- Cavities. Energy drinks can bathe your teeth in sugar, attracting bacteria that attack your enamel, which is where cavities come from.
- Gum disease. This is a bacterial infection in the gums that can result in irritation, bleeding, inflammation, and even tooth loss. When plaque builds up as a result of frequent sugar consumption, it hardens into tartar, which creates toxins that infect your gums.
Why Sports Drinks Are So Harmful
If you’re an athlete, and especially if you’re also a student, sometimes sports drinks can seem like the only way to replenish your energy and stay afloat. While they do keep you hydrated, many of them are chock full of sugar and citric acid.
The reason most of these beverages contain citric acid is that it generally improves their taste and prolongs their shelf life. However, it also erodes your enamel and increases your risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
How You Can Protect Your Smile from Damage
If you consume sports drinks on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to start drinking them less and less to wean yourself off of them. To protect your enamel from further damage and restore its strength, use remineralizing toothpastes and mouthwashes. You could also consume foods and drinks rich in calcium and phosphates, like cheese, yogurt, and milk.
Try hydrating with water instead of sports drinks. When you need to fill up on carbs, try bananas or whole grains. If you have to sip energy drinks, use a straw so the liquid bypasses your teeth, minimizing damage. Lastly, keep in mind that it takes an hour for your saliva to remineralize your teeth after eating or drinking, so wait to brush your teeth until at least that much time has passed.
Would you like to learn more about how sports drinks can impact your oral health? Simply ask your dentist at your next checkup. They can also suggest or prescribe oral hygiene products that strengthen your enamel and protect your smile.
About the Practice
At Painesville Dental Group, we have four convenient locations in the Painesville, OH area. We go out of our way to ensure your safety, comfort, and well-being while you’re under our care. Each of our dentists will go above and beyond in helping you achieve optimal oral health. For more advice on how to protect your smile from the dangers of sports drinks, visit our website.