How Sports Drinks Could Be Ruining Your Teeth

Do you rely on sports drinks to keep you hydrated when you’re working out or playing sports? Sports drinks are helpful if you’re working out in extreme heat, for an extended period of time, or when you’re working out after you haven’t eaten for a while. Because of the electrolytes and carbohydrates in sports drinks, they’re very useful in replacing nutrients and providing energy in extreme situations. However, there’s research to indicate that regular consumption of sports drinks can be hazardous to your dental health.  

A recent study of elite and professional athletes revealed that many of them have substantial dental problems, regardless of good dental hygiene. This study, published in the British Dental Journal, looked at 352 athletes, with 256 of those athletes on track to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Competing across different types of sports, including swimming, cycling, soccer, rowing, hockey, sailing, and athletics, the participants had an average age of 25 years old. Out of the 352, 344 completed a questionnaire regarding their dental hygiene, sugar consumption, whether they smoked or chewed gum, and when they last saw the dentist. Pertinent findings included: 

  • Most of the athletes brushed their teeth twice a day and saw their dentists regularly.  
  • 80 percent of the athletes consumed sports drinks while training or competing. 
  • 58 percent used energy bars, and 70 percent took gels.  

The risk of dental problems seemed to be heightened by the changes in the makeup of the athletes saliva during and after intense exercise. Sports drinks, energy bars, and gels are marketed without guidance about oral health. While the researchers acknowledged that their findings were limited, especially because they had to rely on the participants’ honesty about their habits, they still concluded that these products have a negative impact on dental health. The sugar the products contain increases the risk of tooth decay, and the acidity of the products increases the risk of erosion. During the dental check-ups of the athletes, the researchers noted high levels of tooth decay and acid erosion.  

What does this mean for the general population? Because dental problems are common, the CDC recommends fluoride toothpaste and fluoridated water, thorough brushing and flossing, and regular dentist visits, abstention from smoking and limited alcohol consumptionWe would add that it also might be best to stick with water during most exercise periods, rather than hydrating with sports drinks that may damage your teeth.  

At Park 56 Dental Group, we provide personalized, quality dental care in a spa-like environment. We offer pediatric, prosthodontics, endodontics, oral surgery, Invisalign®, emergency, and sedation dentistry, all at the highest level of treatment. We serve the Midtown, Central Park, Upper East Side, Park Avenue, and all surrounding Manhattan and New York areas, with a patient-centered practice that has hours to fit your schedule. Schedule your complimentary consultation today by contacting us online or calling us at (212) 826-2322.