Popular brands of sports and energy drinks have come under fire recently due to the increasing levels of decay caused by their high acidity. It is claimed that the damage to enamel that has been witnessed in younger patients is a direct result of the manufacturer’s aggressive marketing towards this demographic.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, consumers of these drinks generally perceive that they are ‘good for you’ because of the belief that they improve sports performance. Unfortunately, by consuming them, you are effectively giving your teeth an acid bath.
When the sugars that are commonly found in sports drinks coat the mouth, they react with the bacteria and cause acidity levels to rise. This acidity then destroys the tooth enamel. Once this protective layer is gone, other bacteria can attack the dentine underneath.
Tooth enamel is the shiny, hard outer layer of the teeth. It is made up of minerals and proteins, which make it the strongest tissue within the human body but also the most susceptible to erosion. When the enamel becomes eroded, cavities will occur and ultimately lead to the need for the tooth to be removed.
Dr Murphy, of Bothwell Dental Care said ‘We see many young patients who don’t realise the damage that these drinks can do. While they often know all about the problems caused by too many sweets; the dangers of drinks that get promoted as having beneficial qualities sometimes come as a surprise’.
Natural fruit juices possess many of the beneficial qualities that you will find in a sports drink, without the same dangers to the teeth. Energy drinks also include a lot of caffeine, which carries well documented health risks. People are becoming more aware of the rehydration benefits of coconut water as a sports supplement. This is now available in many more locations and is no longer restricted to health food specialists.
If you are concerned about the acidity levels in your mouth then simply drinking plenty of water and rinsing can reduce the potential for decay. Sugar free gum can also promote the production of pH balancing saliva. Dentists recommend that you do not brush straight after consuming high levels of sugar as this can actually rub the acid into the tooth’s surface. Waiting for an hour or so will help to eliminate this risk.