We already know pop is bad for the teeth. It’s highly acidic and contributes to enamel deterioration over time. Additionally, it also contains a large amount of sugar, increasing the risk of cavities. Sports drinks are acidic and often contain sugar as well. However, which beverage is worse for the teeth?
Sports drinks are Worse than Pop
Surprisingly, it’s not the added sugar. That’s only a small part of the issue. These beverages are actually quite acidic. As you may already know, acidic foods and drinks, if consumed excessively, can erode the enamel of the teeth. However, enamel is critical. It is the protective layer of the teeth that helps fight cavities.
Unfortunately, once enamel is completely gone, it will never come back. Keeping your teeth’s enamel in healthy condition should be the goal.
Long-term, excessive consumption of these acidic sports drinks could eventually lead to dental caries. If the caries are left long enough, you may even require a root canal. Without treatment, your teeth’s roots will become exposed and may become infected without the protective layer of enamel. This can cause excessive pain unless treated by a dental professional.
What Should I Do if I Drink Sports Drinks Often?
While it is not advised to drink too much of an acidic beverage, if it is a must, take note of any oral changes you discover over time. Sensitivity, oral pain, tooth discoloration, infection, or other changes in the mouth should be reported to a dentist immediately.
As always, keep up with your oral hygiene routine. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes, swishing with mouthwash daily, and flossing once or twice a day. As well as this, always keep up with your dental check-up appointments at least twice a year. Dental professionals can let you know if there are any problems with your teeth or enamel surface, long before you even find a problem. In turn, they can help you treat the problem before it worsens.
What can I do to prevent enamel erosion when I drink sports drinks?
Drink less. One way to prevent deterioration of the enamel is to cut back on sports drinks and other acidic, sugary drinks. Many teenagers in the United States drink sports drinks on a daily basis, regardless of whether or not they participate in sports.
Only consider opting for sports drinks if absolutely necessary. Many turn to sports drinks only if they are partaking in physical activity, are sick, or are dehydrated.
Sip through a straw. You may have heard that sipping acidic or sugary beverages through a straw allows for less direct contact with the teeth. In turn, this can reduce the risks of erosion and cavities.
It’s true. While drinking through a straw isn’t ideal for a lot of people, especially when it comes to sports drinks, it’s a good idea to prevent excess deterioration or contact of sugar to the teeth. This is especially recommended for those who already have sensitive, eroded teeth, or have dealt with numerous dental issues in the past.
Don’t brush until after a half hour of drinking. Due to the high acidity, one should not brush their teeth until at least a half hour after drinking sports drinks. Pop, lemonade, juice, and alcoholic beverages are also acidic and require the same procedure.
If you brush your teeth before the half hour is up, the acidic pH of the beverage will be scrubbed deeply within the spaces of the teeth. Being closer contact with the teeth, this can increase dental erosion and tooth sensitivity. Instead, give your teeth a break from brushing for a half hour, allowing the pH to naturally return back to normal. In the meantime, you may rinse your mouth with water.
Look for beverage alternatives. Luckily, there are a lot of other healthy alternatives to sports drinks. Coconut water, aloe water, and sugarless fruit/vegetable smoothies (especially with bananas which contain electrolytes) are all great go-to options. These are not only better and less harsh on the teeth, but they’re also hydrating for the body and skin, delicious and nutritious, and great in replenishing lost electrolytes.
How about Caffeine?
You may not give your kids a daily shot of robusta, but they might still be caffeinated regardless. They could get it through the pop they drink or any energy drinks they consume. And the caffeine might be affecting your child’s teeth.
Caffeine and childhood, in general, aren’t two things that mix well. For one, caffeine affects the nervous system. This impact is especially real for children, as they are more sensitive to the effects. These drinks could wreck your child’s sleep patterns and attentiveness.
Aside from this, caffeine also causes a slew of physiological effects. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels, which then elevates your child’s blood pressure. It also affects the stomach acids, which may turn into hyperacidity at specific doses. And it could affect your child’s appetite, being a stimulant.
But what impact does caffeine have on your kid’s teeth? A lot, actually. And a good number of them could adversely affect your child’s dental health in the long run.
Caffeine might limit the calcium in your bodies
When you drink any caffeinated beverage, you might feel the need to pee more often than you usually do. That’s because caffeine is a diuretic—taken in large doses, it helps produce more urine in your body. ABC Life notes some suggest that it does this by stimulating blood flow to the kidneys.
This effect doesn’t quite put your child in any danger of dehydration. Caffeine’s diuretic effect is insignificant if you get a lot of water in your system. But it may affect the calcium you have in your body. If your child has an adequate amount of calcium in their diet, this diuretic effect shouldn’t be too much of a problem. However, if your kids drink caffeinated drinks the whole day regularly, they might be peeing out the calcium they need.
Calcium is not only an essential mineral for bone development. In teeth, calcium plays a crucial role in the healthy development of teeth, especially for children. And a lack of it affects the jawbone, which could be a source of tooth loss and mobility.
Caffeinated beverages might eat at teeth enamel
When your child’s permanent teeth come out, it can take a while for their enamel to harden. This delay makes your child’s teeth more susceptible to tooth decay and acid attacks. And if your kid likes to drink a lot of caffeinated drinks, it’s a red flag.
Because most of these drinks are quite acidic, regularly consuming them could put a strain on the young enamel. Acid, after all, is what mainly eats away at your teeth during the onset of tooth decay. And since these beverages also contain sugar, the damage doubles. Not only does the drink itself harm the teeth, but it also provides ammunition for bacteria to attack them as well.
While caffeine itself doesn’t seem to impact the teeth directly, the meat of the problem comes from its excess consumption. Caffeine is known to be quite addictive, which can draw in unsuspecting young ones. For the sake of their teeth and bodies, then, you might want to monitor how much they take in. They can save the caffeine for when they’re older.