If you are an athlete, play recreational sports, or just enjoy flavored drinks, you probably consume sports drinks once in a while. However, if you are an avid guzzler of Gatorade, Powerade, and a host of other neon-colored electrolyte drinks on the market, you might not realize the effects that these beverages have on your oral health. Here are some of the surprising ways that sports drinks damage your teeth:
- Cavities. The most obvious offender is sugar. Consumption of sugary beverages has skyrocketed and is a leading cause of tooth decay as well as obesity and diabetes. Drinking sugary drinks throughout the day means your teeth are always coated in the sticky sugars on which cavity-causing bacteria thrive.
- Enamel erosion. You might be surprised to learn that the sugar in sports drinks isn’t the worst ingredient; it’s actually the acid that causes the most damage. An acidic environment in the mouth wears away at tooth enamel and makes teeth sensitive to hot and cold, increasing the likelihood of cracks and chips.
- Discoloration. All of the added dyes in extreme colors like crimson, bright blue, and electric orange don’t just color the drink, they color your teeth, too. The long-term effect of consuming foods with lots of dyes is permanently stained teeth. Enamel erosion caused by the acid also contributes to discoloration as the yellow-colored dentin underneath begins to show through as enamel erodes.
If you need to rehydrate after a workout, the best option is always plain water. Maybe you just can’t bear to give up that post-workout refuel that you’ve come to love so much, though. So how can you offset the effects of all that sugar, acid, and artificial coloring?
- Rinse your mouth. Maybe you’re not a water drinker, but if you at least rinse your mouth out with a little water after consuming a sports drink, you will help to dilute some of the residual sugar and acid.
- Don’t sip all day. Save the sports drinks for after a workout or as an afternoon treat, but don’t sip on them all day long or your teeth will be in a perpetually acidic environment and the damage will be ongoing. Sipping water throughout the day will hydrate you and keep your teeth healthy.
- Brush. Naturally, the best way to clean your teeth is to brush afterwards, but don’t do it right away. It’s best to wait at least half an hour or more before brushing, otherwise the amount of sugar and acid sitting on your teeth will just spread around more of your mouth. Rinse your mouth immediately and brush within the hour. If you can’t brush, chew some sugarless gum and it will help clean your teeth almost as well.
Today’s Dental offers full dental exams, cleanings, cosmetic whitening and veneers, and restorative procedures to keep your teeth looking and feeling their best. We have three offices conveniently located in Millard, Tranquility Park, and Elkhorn. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment.