Sports Drinks Can Cause Tooth Decay!

October 20, 2011 in Dental Hygiene,Dentistry by McCarl Dental Group

The Dangers of Soft Drinks and Sport Drinks

When we think of active, healthy people, we normally envision athletes or someone with a gym membership. Most likely if you’re watching a sporting event, there is an ample supply of sport drinks available to the athletes. While these drinks are often intended to help rehydrate the athlete, they wreak havoc on our teeth.

The same goes for soda and soft drinks. Both sports and soft drinks contain sugars and acidic juices. When these combine with our saliva and are broken down for digestion, an acid byproduct is created. This acid is active on the tooth surface for about 30 minutes. Because it is in liquid form, drinks coat the tooth and reach into deep grooves and areas between teeth. When we have more frequent exposure to these beverages, our decay rate increases. Erosion of the tooth enamel also occurs during consumption of these drinks.(i)

A study done on triathletes showed that while only a small percentage of them perceived themselves at a risk for dental decay, over 80% consumed sport drinks and showed extremely high risk for decay.(ii) Surprisingly, some sports drinks are more damaging to the teeth than soft drinks.(iii) Most of the time these drinks are consumed on a frequent basis over a long period of time. This is a recipe for dental disaster!

So do we need to give up these drinks completely? Not necessarily. However, we should be drinking water more often than anything else. Water hydrates the body extremely well and helps the teeth by rinsing some of the naturally accumulating bacteria. Our body needs water and it’s one of the best things that we can drink. If you decide that you need to drink a sport drink or soda, limit the exposure to your teeth. This can be done first of all by not sipping on the drink over an extended period of time. Sipping causes the exposure to be spread out through the day, extending the time frame in which the teeth can be damaged. Drink all at once, preferably with a meal. By limiting the time that your teeth are exposed to sweet and acidic liquids, you will help decrease the tooth decay caused by those beverages.

If your teeth suddenly happen to become sensitive to the sweet taste of sodas or sport drinks, this is an early symptom of tooth decay. If you or your athlete is experiencing any of these symptoms, call McCarl Dental Group today at (410) 987-8800 or (301) 474-4144 to schedule an exam in our Millersville, MD or Greenbelt, MD location. You may also visit us online and print coupons for special offers at

(i)Noble WH, Donovan TE, Geissberger M.; Sports drinks and dental erosion.; J Calif Dent Assoc. 2011 Apr;39(4):233-8.

(ii)Bryant S, McLaughlin K, Morgaine K, Drummond B.;  Elite Athletes and Oral Health.; Int J Sports Med. 2011 May 17.

(iii)Kitchens M, Owens BM.; Effect of carbonated beverages, coffee, sports and high energy drinks, and bottled water on the in vitro erosion characteristics of dental enamel;J Clin Pediatr Dent. 2007 Spring;31(3):153-9.