Summer is here and that means getting more outdoor exercise like walking, hiking and biking. To quench their thirst, many people turn to sports drinks, but may be unaware of the harm that these beverages can have on teeth.
The acid levels of sports drinks can cause damage to teeth by softening tooth enamel and exposing the softer material underneath. When tooth enamel becomes damaged, teeth become more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, and more vulnerable to cavities and tooth decay. Since tooth enamel can’t be regrown, its loss is irreversible.
Sports drinks may be needed to replace electrolytes after long, high intensity workouts, but for light to moderate exercise, water is still the best drink for rehydrating. If you do reach for a sports drink, follow these tips to minimize the effects on your teeth:
- Dilute with water to reduce concentrated sugar levels
- Drink out of a straw to minimize contact with teeth
- Drink in moderation
- Chew sugar-free gum after drinking to increase saliva flow, which helps return acid levels to normal levels
- Rinse your mouth with water to keep excess drink from collecting on teeth
- Wait 30-60 minutes before brushing, since the toothbrush could spread acid around the mouth and cause further damage to teeth
These tips will help keep your oral health in shape as you work towards improving your overall physical health through exercise.