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We have previously talked about how bad soda can be for your teeth, and now similar research now suggests that sports drinks may be just as unhealthy for your enamel as soda, and not just for their sugar content. The study by the Academy of General Dentistry finds that while sports drinks may help you recover from a hot day, they can act like acid on your teeth. With more than sixty percent of teens drinking a sports drink every day and half saying the same for energy drinks, popularity in these products is skyrocketing. Advertisers would like you to believe that these drinks are a healthier alternative to soda, but are they? Read on to learn more.
The Sugar Problem
Like we discussed in the article on soda, sugar is one of the biggest enemies of a healthy smile. Sugar encourages the production of bacteria which causes tooth decay and gum diseases. Energy drinks are the worst culprit of high sugar content, with some brands having as much as 20 teaspoons of sugar per 20 fl oz (600ml). Despite the recent trend of “sugar-free” energy drinks, artificial sweeteners still provide the necessarily components for bacteria to decay your teeth. While sports drinks may contain less sugar, they still range from 7 teaspoons and up of sugar per serving. You can find less sugar in donuts than in a few sips from a sport or energy drink.
The acidic properties of your mouth are carefully maintained by your body to be at optimal levels for eating and tooth care, but a lot of the foods and drinks we consume can change this balance. Research has found that the acid content of energy and sports drinks varies from brand to brand and flavor to flavor, but a vast majority of them are definitely bad for your mouth. The pH problems with sports and energy drinks have been found to erode enamel, and combined with the high sugar content they provide a prime environment for bacteria to grow and cause tooth decay.
While your saliva will work to wash away the acidic sports/energy drink, many consumers will drink a beverage over an extended period of time, restarting the clock with every sip.
What Can You Do?
While the best plan is to skip on sports or energy drinks, some people might need some time to kick the habit. Keep these tips in mind if you find yourself reaching for any kind of sugary drink:
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- Substitute Drinks: Water, milk, and 100% fruit juice are all great alternatives. While studies have shown that sports drinks might give you a quick boost, a balanced diet will help you more.
- Rinse With Water: After drinking a sports or energy drink, flush your mouth out with water to help reduce the acidic effect. It’s not an ideal solution but it helps.
- Use a Straw: Straws help to minimize the contact time of drinks with your teeth.
- Chew Some Sugar-Free ADA Approved Gum: Gum helps stimulate saliva production which can help clean your teeth.
- Chug It: Drinking quickly will reduce your exposure to the acids and sugars in spots or energy drinks and reduce their negative effects.
While we fully believe that sports and energy drinks are bad for your teeth, The American Beverage Association believes that the study is not as effective as it could be in determining the negative impacts of these beverages. The study was conducted by placing enamel samples in samples from these drinks for fifteen minutes, which The American Beverage Association states is not a realistic exposure time. However, with the average length of consumption of these drinks to be found at nearly an hour, fifteen minutes of exposure to a sugary (and sticky) drink does not seem too far-fetched.
Irvine Dentist Dr. Neda Khodai is ready to answer any questions you may have about sports or energy drinks, or to just help with a regularly scheduled cleaning. Call us at 949-553-1111 or click below to get in touch with Barranca Dental Excellence in Irvine, Orange County California. Se Habla Español!
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