It is common for kids playing outside in the heat to grab a sports drink to re-hydrate and stay cool, but these drinks may be the cause of more trips to the kid’s dentist for oral health problems. Drinking too many of these sugar-filled sports drinks can be harmful to a child’s oral health. Sports drinks are everywhere, including school cafeterias, because they are thought to be a safe alternative for children to consume. Although they may be a healthier alternative to sodas, these drinks are just as capable of causing tooth decay.
Acid and Teeth
Many people associate enamel erosion with the bacteria found in the mouth as a result of poor oral hygiene habits. Unfortunately, highly acidic foods and drinks can cause significant damage to teeth without the help of bacteria. Sports drinks contain high levels of citric acid or phosphoric acid, which may leave children’s teeth more prone to cavities and tooth decay. Once acid erosion starts to attack the enamel on teeth, the teeth often become more sensitive to hot foods, cold foods, touch and pressure, which causes problems with eating, biting and brushing.
Sugar and Teeth
Just like soda, sports drinks contain a high concentration of sugar and although sugar itself doesn’t rot the teeth, the acid that is produced from bacteria due to the sugar, does. Sugar feeds the bacteria that live in our mouths. When children drink sports drinks and other beverages that contain a lot of sugar, the bacteria consumes the sugars, turning the sugars into a harmful acid that eventually causes erosion of the tooth enamel and causes cavities. The best way to remove the acid causing bacteria is to brush, but sports drinks are often sipped frequently throughout the day, which lengthens the amount of time the acids and sugars are on the teeth, leading to plaque and decay. Enamel demineralization leads to cavities on the areas of teeth that have an accumulation of plaque, which is caused by sugars and the bacteria.
Not only can the excess sugars in these drinks cause tooth decay in children, but it may lead to obesity, diabetes and other health issues. All of these can have a negative effect on oral health.
If you are concerned your child may have cavities as a result of drinking sports drinks, contact his or her dentist to schedule an appointment for a cleaning and thorough examination.