Sports drinks are a popular choice for many athletes because of the electrolytes they contain. Sweating during a workout causes you to lose electrolytes, so a sports drink can help replenish those important minerals, keep you hydrated, and prevent muscle cramps. However, sports drinks are not the healthiest way to stay hydrated, as they often contain lots of sugar and acids that can damage your teeth.
Sugar and Acids in Sports Drinks
Most popular sports drinks contain high amounts of added sugar. For example, a single 20-ounce bottle (one serving) of Gatorade has 34 grams of sugar. This is greater than the American Heart Association's recommended total daily sugar intake for women (25 grams), and almost as much as the daily recommendation for men (36 grams). Consuming excess sugar can lead to cavities and tooth decay.
Sports drinks also contain acids such as citric acid. Acids are harmful to your teeth because they can erode your enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease. Damage to your enamel can also make your teeth more sensitive, cause them to get stained more easily, and make their surface rougher and difficult to clean (and thus more vulnerable to cavities and decay).
Alternatives to Sports Drinks
Consuming a sports drink is not the only way to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes after playing sports or working out. Many doctors suggest that plain water should be the drink of choice for athletes before, during, and after a workout. Some other tooth-friendly ways to replenish your electrolytes include eating bananas or drinking watermelon juice or coconut water.
If you swear by sports drinks, you do not have to give them up completely. Like other foods and drinks containing sugar and acid, you should enjoy them in moderation. You might also want to rinse your mouth with water after drinking a sports drink to neutralize the acid, and wait half an hour before brushing your teeth to avoid spreading the acid across your teeth. Contact our office to learn more about the effect of sports drinks on your dental health.
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