Sports Drinks: Destroyers of Your Teeth
Recently, a friend of mine had an unexpectedly bad session at the dentist. He is pretty much the paragon of good health and hygiene so he was startled to find out that he had developed 3 cavities (he has no history of tooth decay). After a conversation with the dentist they both reasonably concluded that the variable most likely responsible for the decay were the sports drinks that he somewhat recently began taking with his daily workouts.
Anyhow he called me totally miffed so I decided to look around to get the Thinny on sport drinks and our teeth.
Everyone knows that public school have been late to the game removing soda machines from their campuses. What you may not know is that they replace these machines with those that dispense water and sports drinks, certainly a lot healthier right? Interestingly enough, recent studies have demonstrated that sports drinks are even more damaging to teeth than soda.
Recently there was a health segment that ran on a local news station showing the various effects of different fluids, water, soda, and sports drinks, on the shells of hard boiled eggs. Apparently the shells of hard boiled eggs are comparable to the enamel found on human teeth (think about that the next time you crack an egg). So they soak various eggs in a variety of different fluids, Coke, Gatorade, Milk, Red Bull ect. The results were pretty stark.
Gatorade was a bad as the Sodas. It actually ate into the hard enamel of the egg after sitting for one night. This is because Gatorade has a bad combination of sugar and acid..it is this combination that really exacerbates the deleterious effect on our teeth.
Ugh…if you think about it sports drinks like Powerade and Gatorade are thought to be as healthy, if not healthier than water for many people. Kids drink the stuff, lots of it. According to this TV segment Wish- TV 8, one high school kid got 12 cavities in 18 months from drinking too much Gatorade!
Here are some tips that dentists recommend for you if you are going to drink soda, sports drinks, or energy drinks. I’ll list them but depending on your consumption habits they may not be that practicable.
1. Drink your fluids before you get dehydrated. The saliva your mouth generates when you are hydrated apparently can act as an acid buffer of sorts.
2. Drink your fluids cold. Acidity increases as fluid temperature increases.
3. Don’t brush your teeth right after you drink a sports drink or other acidy drink.
4. Drinking the acidy beverage in one sitting instead of sipping it over a period of time. The reason for this is that tooth enamel takes hours to re-harden once the acid has contacted the teeth.
5. Drink your acidiy beverage with food or through a straw. This minimizes contact with the enamel.
Again, these tips require a level of mindfulness about your personal consumption that may not be realistic for some people, namely me. I will just avoid the acid. My takeaway?
“Just avoid the acid maaaan”