Sports Drinks Can Damage Teeth More Than Colas
Sipping on a sports drink can give you a burst of energy, but the drinks also can damage your teeth even more than colas.
That’s because the popular drinks can cause tooth erosion and hypersensitivity, according to a recent study at New York University College of Dentistry. They also may lead to a condition called erosive tooth wear in which the acids in the drinks eat away tooth enamel and seep deep into the tooth, causing it to weaken and soften. The result can be severe tooth damage and even tooth loss.
“This is the first time that the citric acid in sports drinks has been linked to erosive tooth wear,” said Dr. Mark Wolff, who led the study.
Wolff and his research team cut cow teeth, which closely resemble human teeth, in half. They submerged half in a sports drink and the other half in water. When they compared the two halves, the tooth soaked in the sports drink showed a significant amount of erosion and softening.
“Five teeth were immersed in each drink for 75 to 90 minutes to simulate the effects of sipping on sports drinks over the course of the day,” Wolff said. Gatorade, Poweraid, Vitamin Water, SoBe Life Water were tested, and all caused damage.
Sports drinks are high in sugars and acids, mainly citric and ascorbic acid added to boost flavor and extend shelf life. They help replace liquids and minerals lost during exercise, but studies have shown they are more caustic than cola.
Brushing teeth after drinking a sports drink can make matters worse, because toothpaste can be very abrasive to softened tooth enamel.
“To prevent tooth erosion, consume sports drinks in moderation, and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth, to allow softened enamel to re-harden,” Wolff said. “If you frequently consume sports drinks, ask your dentist if you should use an acid-neutralizing remineralizing toothpaste to help re-harden soft enamel.”
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