When is the last time you saw a commercial for a sports drink? Was there an athlete in peak physical condition displayed next to the product? Did you get the sense that sports drinks can help you achieve greater physical performance and push your body to the next level? While there are benefits associated with achieving the proper electrolyte balance during and after exercise, these sports drinks have a dirty secret: Most of them are filled with sugar or artificial sweeteners and can wreak havoc on your mouth. Paul Piccininni, dental director for the International Olympic Committee, recently told ESPN that Olympic athletes have “bodies of Adonis and a garbage mouth.” He goes on to tell story after story about prized athletes with horrible dental problems, including Michael Jordan, at one point.
There are two main oral health problems associated with using traditional sports drinks and other gels to fuel performance:
1. Sports drinks, gels, and bars are often loaded with sugar, which is harmful to teeth, creating an acidic environment in which bacteria thrive.
2. Dehydration caused by intense physical exercise causes the mouth to produce less saliva, which normally acts to regenerate enamel.
“The oral health of athletes is worse than the oral health of the general population,” Piccininni says. “Considerably worse.” From rowers to runners, cyclists to swimmers, sports drinks are used by millions of amateur and professional athletes around the world, and the effects of a consistent rush of sugar are are proving to be insurmountable.
What can you use to fuel performance instead of sports drinks?
We recommend using products such as Nuun hydration tabs, which contain electrolytes with little to no sugar or carbs. Many other manufacturers have taken note of this issue and have created new products to enhance physical activity without causing chaos in your mouth.
If you have any questions about the best type of food and drink to consume for your teeth or if you would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our team or make an appointment. Our incredible staff will give you the best dental care possible.