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Sports Drinks: The Acid Test

Jan 09, 2013 06:11PM ● By Anonymous


The latest news on sports drinks is a case in point of the best intentions going awry—it turns out that sports drinks can damage the enamel of the teeth leaving them more susceptible to decay and sensitivity. The findings are based on a study conducted by the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine and published in the journal General Dentistry. Acid is the culprit. It takes 45 minutes after you stop drinking/eating acid/sugary items for the mouth’s pH balance to return to normal. However, if you keep sipping or nibbling, the clock keeps resetting. Studies have shown that people who eat sweets as snacks between meals have higher rates of decay than people who eat the same amount of sweets with their meals.

Some Expert Guidance

“One of the main duties of saliva is to neutralize acid in the mouth after eating. There are several things that can make saliva too acidic—one is the sugar found in soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks. Bacteria thrive on sugar and create an acidic byproduct in the saliva. The more acidic the saliva, the more mineral loss in the teeth, resulting in cavities.

“Depending on your eating and drinking patterns, it’s possible for the bacteria to produce acid almost constantly. The resulting acid damage adds up, so decay is more likely. Limit the number of sports drinks or any other drinks that contain sugar. Limit the amount of time you take to drink any of these drinks. Avoid sipping them throughout the day. A can of soda that you finish with a meal exposes your teeth to acids for a shorter time than a soda that takes you two hours to drink.

“The people especially at risk are those who, in addition to consuming sports drinks, consume soda, energy drinks, and/ or alcohol. Also athletes who, as a result of the number of hours spent on the fi eld in practice, may consume these drinks chronically.

“There are better choices: unsweetened tea and water, especially fluoridated water. Tea also has fluoride which can strengthen tooth enamel. And water helps flush away bits of food as well as dilute the sugar acids.”—Kian Djawdan, DMD