You’re taking a break from some heavy duty activity and you’re sweaty and thirsty. A cold, refreshing sports drink is usually your beverage of choice to quench your dry mouth and help replace those important electrolytes you’ve just lost.
Seems health and harmless enough, but did you know, with consistent use, many sports drinks can cause seriously damage to your teeth, making them more susceptible to corrosion and tooth decay?
If the amount of sugar in these types of drinks isn’t alarming enough, the acidic nature of the phosphoric or citric acids contents can erode the enamel right off your teeth!
When exposed to the corrosive nature of these acids, the outer, shiny layer of enamel begins to break open and dissolve. It doesn’t take long for the damage to be irreversible. We call this an “acid attack” and it can take up to an hour before your saliva can neutralize the acidic levels in your mouth after you are finished your drink.
Think brushing your teeth right away will help?
The scrubbing action of brushing your teeth immediately afterwards can cause further damage because the tooth’s enamel is in a weakened, soft state during this acid attack.
At What Costs?
We’re not trying to make activity even harder to recover from than it already is. Tooth damage from the frequent use of acidic drinks is becoming a serious concern for dentists and the damage, in terms of dental destruction and the associated financial costs, can be staggering.
What Can You Do?
Water: sometimes it just doesn’t cut it…
We recommend good ol’ water to help quench your thirst and stay hydrated. However, if you are involved in very intense exercise and training in hot weather for long periods of time, replacing the electrolytes you’ve lost during activity is extremely important for your overall recovery, fitness and health.
Depending on where you live, ordinary tap water also contains salt and other minerals. You would have to know how much as it is unlikely that it contains the quantity you’ll need to help you recover after intense exercise.
Simply put, normal table salt makes up the bulk of the electrolytes you’ll find in most sports drinks, It also will contain some potassium, magnesium, calcium and chloride which you also lose from your body when you sweat heavily.
Following the tips below can help minimize the damaging effects of the acids in your drink and are worth making a healthy habit in your rest, recreational and exercise choices.
- Try to find a sports drink without all the unnecessary added sweeteners and artificial colors.
- Try to aim and squirt dink towards back of your throat in an attempt to avoid contact with teeth.
- If all you need to do is stay hydrated during normal hot weather and moderate exercise, water should be sufficient.
- Remember, that activity isn’t the only way you lose sustenance from you body. Consider also that illness and fasting will cause the depletion of important nutrients.
- Mineral water (not spring or distilled water) can be an adequate alternative. Read the lable as some contains more sodium than the average sports drink.
- You may be able to find a coconut water that contains the level of potassium and sodium you’re looking for as an endurance athlete. Watch out for the sugar content.
- Be careful to read all labels. Some drinks carry a high content of sugar and even caffeine for some extra kick!
- Know that high sodium drinks can cause more thirst, so always have water on hand if you find that your sports drink didn’t quite do the trick in quenching your initial dryness and for rinsing your teeth afterwards.
- Don’t like the bland taste of water? Get a filter or try adding a slice of fresh fruit to your drink.
- Read your favourite sports drink label, do the math and make a DIY recovery drink. You can also add your own flavouring and colour using instant drink powders. Search the internet for some great online recipes.
- Be careful to ensure your mouth isn’t frequently in a state of dryness. Saliva is the essential factor in tooth remineralization after an acid (demineralization) attack.
A word of about a thing called Hunger
Hunger gets such a bad rap! It’s actually a natural reoccurring event that is suppose to happen to let you know that it’s time to eat. So, unless you’re diabetic or have another health-related issue that prevents you from fasting between meals, allow this natural process to happen and let your body use this time for repair.
For the Best of the Best…
And lastly, If you’re an elite, competitive athlete who must undergo mandatory drug testing you already know to use your own sports drink bottle not the large, free for all jug provided at some training facilities/events by sponsors and may be easily “accessible” by anyone. Not that we’re suggesting anything, but you can never be too careful when so much is at stake!
Protect Your Smile,