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Beware of Sports Drinks

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Sports drinks have been available for many years now, but they have become increasingly popular as a way of rehydrating after vigorous activity. Lots of active children like these drinks, and parents may be tempted to buy these beverages believing they are better for kids than soda or juice. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, and sports drinks often contain high amounts of sugar and acid, far more than many juices and sodas.

Why Are Sports Drinks So Bad for Dental Health?

Most contain electrolytes like potassium and sodium, which are depleted from the body during high-intensity exercise. Unless your child has done some form of vigorous exercise for at least an hour, they probably don’t need a sports drink to replenish their electrolyte levels. For most, plain water is the better option for good physical and oral health.

Some sports drinks also contain carbohydrates to boost energy levels using ingredients like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. A 12-ounce serving may have as much as 21 g of sugar. Although this is less than some sodas, it’s still way too high for good dental health. Streptococcus mutans, a harmful cavity-causing bacteria thrive on sugary foods, creating acid that attacks tooth enamel.

Many sports drinks also contain a high amount of citric acid because this extends the shelf life of the product and boosts its flavor. The citric acid will automatically attack tooth enamel, softening and weakening it, so teeth become more prone to cavities and decay.

What to Drink Instead?

Instead of sports drinks, water is always the best drink for rehydration and is sugar-free. Encourage your kid to drink plenty of water to quench their thirst. However, if they have engaged in particularly vigorous activity and want a sports drink to replenish their electrolytes, make sure they take these steps to reduce the risk of tooth decay.

  • Get them to rinse their mouth with plain water immediately after consuming a sports drink as this will help to remove some excess sugar remaining on their teeth.
  • Don’t let them brush their teeth immediately as the acid will have softened their tooth enamel. Brushing softened tooth enamel can damage it further. Instead, wait at least half an hour before brushing as, by this time, pH levels will have begun to normalize, and tooth enamel begins to re-harden.
  • Sipping on plain water while they exercise or play sports will help to keep their mouth moist so they can produce plenty of saliva. A moist mouth helps to maintain neutral pH levels more easily, protecting tooth enamel and fighting tooth decay. If they do want a sports drink afterward, they are less likely to consume a large amount and can still rinse their mouth and clean their teeth later.
This page was published on Oct 7, 2020, modified on Oct 16, 2020 by Pediatric Dentistry Center

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The information on this website is to provide a general pediatric dentistry information. In no way does any of the information provided reflect a definitive treatment advice. It is important to consult a best in class pediatric dentist in Brooklyn regarding ANY questions or issues. A thorough dental evaluation should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call your local kids dentist or pediatric dentist Dr. Igor Khabensky DDS or Dr. Tracy Kim, to schedule a consultation.
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