Sports drinks hit the wire today with a red light that their level of acidity is increasingly responsible for irreversible damage to teeth, especially among adolescents and younger adults, their predominant target market.
“Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are ‘better’ for them than soda … Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid.”
The acidity levels are responsible for eroding tooth enamel, the hard, shiny, white outer surface of the teeth. Once this is compromised, the inner softer dentine can start to decay quite easily, with the tooth cavity making a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Researchers looked at acidity levels in 13 different sports drinks and found levels varied greatly between both brands and different flavors of the same brand. Scientists immersed samples of tooth enamel in each beverage for 15 minutes and then replaced them in artificial saliva for two hours. The cycle was repeated four times per day for five days to mimic the equivalent of drinking four smart drinks per day. At all other times, the teeth were stored in the artificial saliva.
After just five days, the damage was already evident, with energy drinks causing double the damage of more balanced sports drinks. Some fifty percent of US teenagers are reported to consume energy drinks and as many as sixty two percent consume at least one sports drink per day. Parents and young adults should be made aware of the downside to the heavily marketed products, says the report.
“Teens regularly visit dentist with these types of symptoms, but they don’t know why … We review their diet and snacking habits and then we discuss their consumption of these beverages. They don’t realize that something as seemingly harmless as a sports or energy drink can do a lot of damage to their teeth.”
So minimize the intake of sports and energy drinks and also consider chewing sugar free gum to promote saliva production, as well as washing the mouth with water, to assist the body in returning the mouth to its natural PH, a little quicker. Also wait at least an hour before brushing teeth to avoid rubbing the acids directly onto the tooth surface.
Although marketers might not want to admit it, natural fruit juices and especially coconut water which has excellent re-hydrating properties, might make a better alternative to smart drinks, which are often loaded with sugar, caffeine and artificial ingredients, and can be costly, not only in purchase price, but also in dentistry bills.