The Real Truth about Sports Drinks and Tooth Decay

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Did you know that 30-50% of Americans teens consume energy drinks daily and up to 62% consume sports drinks daily? You might think this is a “harmless and healthy” choice, but for your children’s teeth, it can be a total disaster. It’s basically like drinking a soda and can quickly destroy tooth enamel if you’re not careful.

Scientists are proving the problem. According to a study published in General Dentistry, energy and sports drinks contain so much acid that they can start destroying teeth after five days. To be fair, the scientists placed teeth into these sports drinks for 15 minutes every day and no child would hold the liquid in their mouth that long. However, it shows conclusively that these drinks destroy enamel.

The quickest route to tooth decay. Acidic drinks are even worse than sugary foods or drinks because they attack teeth directly. “Bacteria converts sugar to acid and it’s the acid bath that damages the enamel, not the sugar directly,” says Dr. David Katz, Director of the Yale Prevention Center. “So by incorporating a high acid load into a drink, we are cutting out the middleman on the way to tooth decay.”

What should you do about these drinks? First, it’s important to limit their usage, even if your child is an athlete. If your child must drink one of these drinks, have them swirl water in their mouth and spit it out right after drinking. Don’t have them brush their teeth immediately because the enamel will be soft at that point and the abrasiveness of the toothpaste could take it off. Instead, wait 45 minutes to an hour. Their saliva will have re-mineralized the enamel and your child should brush then.

These drinks are everywhere and their dental dangers aren’t widely known, so it might be impossible to prevent your children from drinking them completely. Just do the best you can and make sure your child gets their dental check-up every six months. That’s the best way to uncover and treat any early stages of enamel erosion.

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