Water is by far the best thing you can drink to stay hydrated. But during especially vigorous exercise, you may feel like you need more. Sports drinks were first invented to help athletes replenish their electrolytes while rehydrating. While they work well for that purpose, they definitely have downsides. One of those is the effect on your teeth. In fact, they are even more destructive than soda or juice. Read on to learn what your dentist has to say about sports drinks along with some tooth-friendly alternatives.
Why Should I Avoid Sports Drinks?
Sports drinks contain high sugar and acid content. This is a horrible combination for your teeth. The acid from the beverage corrodes your tooth enamel and the sugar acts as a fuel for bacteria to grow. The combination of the corrosion of your enamel and the increased number of bacteria leaves teeth vulnerable to issues like:
- Cracks and chips: When the tooth enamel becomes soft, it is much easier to chip and crack your teeth.
- Indentations: Indentations, also known as “cups,” can form on the chewing surface of the teeth.
- Discoloration: When the enamel wears down, the dentin of the tooth becomes exposed which gives it a yellow appearance.
- Transparency: The surface of your front teeth may become somewhat transparent and blue near the edges.
- Increased sensitivity: People who have corroded enamel can experience increased temperature and texture sensitivity.
- Tooth decay: With weakened protective enamel and increased bacteria, you are more likely to develop tooth decay and cavities.
How Can I Protect My Teeth?
Only drink sports drinks on occasion, but if you do choose to indulge in one, take these precautions to limit the harm it can cause your teeth:
- Use a straw to limit the contact between the sports drink and your teeth.
- Rinse your teeth with mouthwash or water afterwards.
- Drink it with a meal. Your mouth will produce more saliva which neutralizes the acid in the beverage.
- Don’t brush your teeth right away. Wait about an hour. Brushing too early can damage your already softened enamel.
What Are Some Sports Drink Alternatives?
If you are engaging in strenuous exercise and want to replenish electrolytes while staying hydrated, here are a few tooth friendly alternatives:
- Coconut water: It’s great for keeping you hydrated while also offering you plenty of wholesome nutrients.
- Bananas: Drink water and consume a banana. They contain antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and vitamin B6.
- Chocolate milk: This is definitely one to consume in moderation, but it contains a great balance of carbs and proteins. It also contains vitamins A and D.
If you’re getting thirsty throughout the day, water definitely should be your go-to option. It keeps you hydrated, stimulates saliva production, rinses the mouth, and is good for pretty much every organ in your body. Make knowledgeable decisions about what you are consuming so you can keep yourself and your smile healthy.
About the Author
Dr. Nelson Y. Howard is a family and cosmetic dentist with two full service private practices in San Marcos and Rancho Bernardo, CA. He is the President and Founder of the West Coast Society for Cosmetic Dentistry. Since graduating from the UCLA School of Dentistry, he has completed thousands of hours of continuing education courses and gained over three decades of experience. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (760) 599-6559.