How Sports Drinks Lead to Rotten Teeth
- Dr. Todd Bertman
- 11 Apr
Drinking a sports drink after practice or a workout may feel like it boosts your energy. But, the truth is, sports drinks are just as bad as drinking soda. And they can even lead to rotten teeth.
Learn more about the dangers of sports drinks, when they might be appropriate, and what to drink instead.
Sports Drinks Include Unhealthy Ingredients
Your sports drink ingredients will vary depending on the brand. However, many products contain water, sugar, dextrose, citric acid, salts, sodium citrate, red dye, and many others. All of these negatively impact your dental health.
The brand may advertise that they help you refuel and restore lost electrolytes. But, there’s no scientific evidence to prove that. Energy drinks are likely no better than water for hydrating or maintaining electrolyte balance. In fact, cold water remains the ideal replacement beverage for most young athletes.
Beyond rotten teeth, the frequent consumption of sports drinks could also lead to obesity. With so many sugars and sodium in these products, they’re easy to over-consume.
While sports drinks taste great, the risks to your teeth and health aren’t worth it. And if you think they’re healthy, you’re more likely to drink them or offer them to your kids.
What About pH and Teeth?
Your mouth is a well-designed machine with saliva that helps protect your mouth. Saliva produces antibodies and keeps your mouth pH neutral. Low or acidic pH could lead to issues with rotten teeth and gum inflammation. Saliva can even help repair early tooth decay.
The pH of soda ranges from 2.7-3.5, and the pH of sports drinks ranges from 2.3-4.4. It’s only a nominal difference, and both beverages are bad for your teeth.
Sugar Feeds Bacteria and Leads to Rotten Teeth
Sports drinks contain lots of sugars, which feed the bacteria in your mouth. When the bacteria is well-fed, it continues to thrive and can lead to advanced tooth decay and rotten teeth. Beyond bacteria, sugar can also cause inflammation. You or your child may become susceptible to gingivitis and gum disease when exposed to too much sugar in their diet.
The citric acid in energy drinks can quickly wear down your tooth enamel. Over time, enamel loss leads to more decay, cavities, and dreaded rotten teeth.
Unfortunately, rushing to brush your teeth could backfire. Combining teeth brushing and the citric acid could spread it around and create further enamel damage. Instead, wait about an hour to brush. Or try rinsing out their mouth with water could also help.
Increases Teeth Grinding
There is some confusion on whether the sugar, dyes, or other ingredients in a sports drink triggers hyperactivity. Studies show that sugar and artificial sweeteners don’t really cause hyperactivity.
However, when sugar and carbohydrates quickly enter the bloodstream, they can spike sugar levels. Dyes and preservatives could also cause a hyperactive reaction.
If any reason contributes to teeth grinding (bruxism), your dental health will suffer. The activity could cause tooth breakage and loss.
Creates Teeth Sensitivities
Sports and energy drinks lead to so many adverse reactions in your mouth. It makes sense that these drinks also lead to tooth hypersensitivity. Sensitivity after hot or cold food and gum tenderness are not good signs. You may be consuming too many energy drinks and are at risk for rotten teeth.
4. Alternatives to Energy Drinks
Fortunately, there are plenty of tasty alternatives to sports drinks. Although water is the best option for healthy teeth and hydration, if you’d like something else, you have options.
1. Coconut Water
Coconut water is sweeter than water and aids in reducing harmful oral bacteria. There is also some evidence that it can help decrease plaque and reduce gum inflammation. Make sure the product you choose doesn’t have any added sugars or flavors.
2. Watermelon Water
Watermelon contains 92% water and helps rehydrate your body. Fruits with high water content are also helpful in reducing bacteria from your teeth that could create cavities. Before you make a purchase, scour the ingredients. It’s easy to sneak in sugars and other fillers in watermelon water.
3. Iced Green Tea
Do you or your children enjoy unsweetened green iced teeth? The drink could protect against rotten teeth and lower the acidity of your saliva and plaque.
Milk may not seem like an intuitive go-to for hydration. In reality, it’s full of vitamins, minerals, and proteins that are good for hydration and dental health. Calcium and phosphorus help strengthen and repair enamel and prevent rotten teeth.
When to Consume Sports Drinks
We’ve shown sports drinks aren’t necessary to hydrate yourself or your child with so many alternatives. However, if you like the taste, the occasional sports drink isn’t worse than other soda.
The real cause of rotten teeth is always a lack of dental hygiene. While drinking sugary drinks can make the process of plaque buildup faster, if you brush your teeth and floss every day, you should be able to counter the negative effects of sports drinks.
Talk to an NYC Dentist About Rotten Teeth
Your teeth are a cornerstone to a happy and healthy family. While cutting sports drinks out of your diet can definitely help preserve your dental health, you still need a daily dental hygiene routine and regular dentist checkups.
If you live in New York City, Advanced Dental Arts are here to help you keep your teeth as healthy as possible.
Book an appointment today and trust your Greenwich Village dentist to give you and your child’s dental health something to smile about!