The typical endurance athlete is deemed to have low body fat, sustained energy, proper calorie intake, and maybe some chiseled teeth to go with their chiseled abs?
While it may not be the case for every athlete, there is a correlation in the typical sports drinks, energy gels and other snacks routinely consumed by runners, cyclists and gym fanatics. These supplements are wreaking havoc on the dental hygiene of athletes and non-athletes alike, causing a range of problems including loss of enamel, tooth decay and gum disease.
The problem is two-fold for athletes. First, physical exertion causes people to dehydrate causing them to breathe through the mouth instead of the nose, which dries the mouth and teeth. Secondly, athletes consume a lot of these products during training and racing to refuel their dehydration. So what does this mean?
Breathing through your mouth and then consuming these lab concoctions give energy or hydration during your endurance, do more harm than good in the long run. According to a study presented at the International Association for Dental Research in Miami the high levels of acidity in our typical sports drink such as Gatorade, Vitamin Water, Life Water, Powerade, and Propel Fit Water can damage tooth enamel, even more so than soda, due to a combination of acidic components, sugars, and additives. The damage can be irreversible due to the breakdown of the tooth’s enamel, the shiny outer layer of your teeth, causing them to become overly sensitive to temperature changes and touch.
“We are all aware how bad sugar for our teeth is, but acids are worse and they are in a lot of things we drink,” says Dr. Mario Iraheta. “Most of the products we use out there are water, sugar and acid. And sugar feeds bacteria, and bacteria produce more acids. If you have an acidic environment to begin with, then you are in a never ending cycle.”
Tips to Prevent Tooth Decay From Acidic Sports Drinks
So how can people prevent or lessen the problem? Read the tips below to protect your teeth from any foreseeable damage and take precautions next time it’s not necessary to take that sports beverage or gel.
- If you can, just drink water. If the idea of drinking water isn’t exciting try making an alternative sports drink. This natural sports drink from Wellness Mama is a healthy and refreshing way to re hydrate with the added electrolytes.
- Try to chase your energy and sports drink with water every time you drink it.
- Whether you swallow the water or not, swish it around for a moment to remove sugars and acids from the teeth.
- After a workout or race, drink water and rinse well. Wait about 30 minutes for tooth enamel to harden before brushing.
- Swish with a fluoride product after brushing
- Chewing an antacid tablet can reduce acid in the mouth, hardening enamel for brushing.
If you think you’re at risk of tooth enamel erosion, schedule your appointment at Biscayne Dental Center to get a remineralizing treatment. These contain fluoride and calcium phosphate to help restore calcium and stengthen the enamel.