If you’re like most people, you reach for a sports drink after a really good workout. Perhaps you stock up on some for your kids after their sports practices and games. They are billed as ways to restore lost electrolytes through excessive sweating, and the reviews are still split on their effectiveness or even healthiness. However, as with anything in moderation, you can ensure a good balance between enjoying your favorite drinks and maintaining good health — specifically oral health.
The Secret Behind Sports Drinks
Like many beverages on the market today, sports drinks contain a lot of sugar. In fact, you may think you’re doing yourself a favor by choosing a sports drink over soda or fruit juice, but often times they contain even MORE sugar than those two choices. Most sports drinks contain electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which your body loses when it sweats a lot, particularly through an hour or more of high-intensity exercise, says WebMD. However, sports drinks can contain up to 21 grams of sugar in just a 12-ounce bottle. All that sugar can interact negatively with the helpful bacteria present in your mouth, which can actually protect your teeth and gums. The sugar in sports drinks can attack those bacteria, leaving you with less help when it comes to gum and teeth protection, PLUS it can eat away at your teeth through the production of acid. The result? You’re at a higher risk for cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral damage.
Tips for Good Oral Health
Like we said before, moderation is key, and what you do AFTER consuming a sports drink is also important. Other factors depend on whether you will experience tooth decay in your life, such as your overall dental hygiene, lifestyle, saliva production and genetics. Heed these tips to protect your smile:
Stay hydrated: Instead of consuming sports drinks, which ironically contain a lot of sugar and even caffeine that can cause dehydration, drink good old fashioned water. Because lack of water is the top contributor for daytime fatigue, always carry a water bottle with you.
Brush your teeth: It’s not always possible to brush after consuming sports drinks, but it’s a good idea if you can. Pack a travel toothbrush and toothpaste for school, sports games and work. This will help dislodge food particles and sugar, but it will also prevent staining of your teeth which can occur over time from the dyes used in sports drinks.
Swish with water: At the very least, follow up your sports drink with a few mouthfuls of water. Swish out your mouth and release some of the sugar to prevent cavity formation as well as to keep the acid from eroding your tooth enamel. Keeping your mouth moist will help increase saliva production, which helps protect tooth enamel. A dry mouth is a breeding ground for bad bacteria.
Use the right dental products: Ask your dentist about the latest dental care products that can help keep your teeth clean. Triple Bristle is one such product that has a unique patented triple-sided brush head with three speed settings and auto-timer. This takes the guesswork out of brushing your teeth, and provides a more effective way of removing sugar and food particles than a standard toothbrush.
Stay on top of your oral hygiene habits and you will enjoy a brighter, healthier smile!