If you thought that sports drinks are better than soda for your teeth’s health, you are in for a big surprise. Recent shows that energy-boosting beverages like Gatorade, Powerade, and All Sport contain a significant amount of acids and sugar that cause dental erosion and decay.
Whether you choose hypotonic, isotonic or hypertonic sports drinks your teeth suffer just the same. Eve sugar-free beverages that act like performance enhancers may gradually damage your oral health. As for energy boosters like Red Bull, Monster or Rockstar, the medical field has already concluded that their high doses of sugar are “deadly” for the enamel on your teeth.
You see ads for performance enhancement beverages at almost any sporting event. The companies that produce these energy-boosting brews are important sponsors of well-known sports clubs and athletes. Even the commercials for sports drinks are very engaging as they show sports players going from zero to hero with just a sip of these cool, colorful liquids.
But have you ever wondered what’s in a sports drink? Are energy drinks any different from sodas when it comes to teeth health?
The reason why sports drinks are advertised differently from regular fizzy sodas is their addition of electrolytes. These beverages have the role to replace water and electrolytes that athletes lose during practice or official games to help them endure physical activity a bit longer than usual.
However, sports drinks do not give you superpowers nor do they improve your athletic performance. Instead, they can destroy your teeth health progressively due to their high acidity. Here are some of the health-damaging ingredients in these beverages:
The high amount of sugar in sports and energy drinks cause dental erosion, which leaves the road clear for cavities to settle in. Regular consumption destroys the enamel layer on your teeth and makes them vulnerable to bacteria and germs
Acesulfame and Sucralose are two artificial sweeteners present in many “light” versions of sports drinks. While these carbonated drinks claim to have less sugar, they still have high acidity and even more calories than sweetened beverages.
Many energy and sports drinks have peculiar colors for beverages, and they usually come in green, blue or yellow nuances with the power of food dyes. Unfortunately, many of these substances are derived from petroleum and they pose a high carcinogenic risk. Additionally, they can stain your teeth in the same way that coffee and tea do.
Many energy drinks contain caffeine in relatively higher doses than most soft drinks. While the short-term effects of this energy-boosting substance are not negative, in the long run, it can induce hyperactivity and cardiovascular problems.
This plant extract produces a similar effect to caffeine. Unfortunately, it also induces anxiety and mood changes.
Taurine is an amino sulfonic acid that has antioxidant properties. However, long-term consumption of beverages that are rich in Taurine increases the acidity in your mouth and creates the perfect environment for bacteria and germs to stick to the teeth.
What are the side effects of sports and energy drinks on your teeth?
Energy drinks may give you an adrenaline spike due to their high levels of sugar and caffeine. Performance enhancers for athletes may also give you the illusion that you can run that extra mile with minimum effort, mainly because drinking one boosts electrolyte levels and rehydration.
Nevertheless, the adverse side effects of drinking these beverages may have a harmful effect similar to consuming soda drinks regularly. Here is the damage that they can do to your teeth:
Also known as dental erosion, this condition takes place when external acids weaken and eventually destroy the enamel layers on your teeth. Without mineral protection, your teeth lose volume and strength. The result is a gradual increase in plaque and bacteria.
Carries appear when your teeth lose the battle with sugar and other carbohydrates that change the pH levels in your oral cavity. Most energy drinks contain as much as 14 tablespoons of sugar that are enough to reduce the calcium on your teeth as a result of regular consumption.
Frequent contact with sports drinks is similar to regularly drinking soda or other sweetened beverages, and it can lead to gum disease and periodontal disease. These conditions are difficult to treat and even harder to reverse.
Why do people still consume sports drinks?
Despite the fact that many consumers realize the dangers of having sports and energy drinks regularly, people still enjoy them as refreshing post-workout brews or during social outings.
As a means of hydration, drinks like Gatorade and Powerade may be beneficial when you exercise. Additionally, they provide decent amounts of minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium, which can sustain a reliable level of endurance. Electrolyte balance is crucial for the health of your muscles, and sports drinks can help you maintain it when you practice intense physical activity for more than 90 minutes.
Unfortunately, the price that you pay for keeping your electrolytes levels high is long-term damage to your teeth. Regular consumption leads to poor hygiene health and a gradual demineralization of the teeth’s protective barrier. In time, you may have to deal with toothaches, teeth sensitivity and gum diseases if you don’t change your energy-boosting beverages.
Alternative to sports drinks
If you want to revitalize your muscles during training practice or post-workout there are several healthy alternatives to sports drinks. Your goal is to replace the minerals lost during extensive physical training, and you can reach it without gulping down any sugary beverages. Your ideal choices should be any of the following:
By blending a cup of watermelon with a bit of salt and lemon juice you get a naturally sweet potion that rebalances your electrolyte levels. This drink works its magic if you have it before, during or after your workout.
Unsweetened coconut water can replace some of the electrolytes that you lose while working out. Also, this drink provides a significant amount of healthy fats that become ready-to-use energy for your body.
You can prepare this healthy brew at home by blending a beetroot with a bit of sea salt and lemon juice. The resulting drink is full of nutrients that reenergize you and has a sweet aftertaste due to the natural sugar in the beetroot.
A cup of green tea is packed with antioxidants that restore your chemical balance. Additionally, it provides a slight caffeine boost that reduces fatigue.
Spicy Orange Smoothie
You can blend one orange together with a handful of grapes and a pinch of cumin seeds to get a tongue-pinching energy drink. This blend is full of antioxidants, vitamins, and natural sugars.
How to protect your teeth from energy drinks damage
If you prefer sports and energy drinks to natural blends, you should at least take all the necessary precautions to reduce the damage that they produce to your oral hygiene. The best strategy implies drinking these sugary beverages as rarely as possible. However, if you cannot break the habit of having a performance-enhancing brew when you practice sports, you can try to:
Try to keep the sports drink in your mouth as little as possible to prevent the sugar from sticking to your teeth. Also, by not sipping the highly acidic beverage you do not alter the pH in your mouth so severely as to cause long-term damage.
Brush your teeth
Brushing your teeth immediately after you exercise is not part of many athletes’ post-workout habits. Still, if you have consumed energy drinks while practicing a sport, your best choice of removing the sugar and bacteria in your mouth is to brush your teeth thoroughly with fluoridated toothpaste.
Chew sugar-free gum
Chewing gum is not as effective as brushing your teeth, but an unsweetened chewing gum stick can have a rinsing effect on your teeth and rebalance the acidity in your mouth.
The Bottom Line
Sports drinks and energy drinks have a high potential of ruining your mouth health. Daily consumption may not provide any short-term negative effects, but in the long run, you will have to face the damaging impact of sugar and acidity on your teeth.
Beverages like Gatorade, Powerade, Red Bull, Monster and All Sport may provide you with a short-lived energy spike and an electrolyte boost that should help you endure fatigue with more ease. However, they also change the pH in your mouth and cause erosion of your teeth.
As your teeth lose their enamel protection barrier, they become sensible and more susceptible to cavities. Additionally, you have a higher risk of getting a gum infection like periodontal disease.
Your best choice of protecting your teeth’s health is to reduce the consumption of sports and energy drinks to a minimum. Also, if your children are big fans of these beverages, try to gradually replace them with water or non-acidic brews that do not damage their oral hygiene and still provide them with essential nutrients.
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