ARE SPORTS DRINKS AS HARMFUL TO KIDS’ TEETH AS SODA?
-Delta Dental Suggests Parents Have Kids Drink Water to Quench Their Thirst-
Parsippany, NJ (July 1, 2013) – While kids play sports in the summer heat, they will be tempted to gulp down large sugary sports and energy drinks to stay cool. Swigging too many of these beverages, however, can harm a child’s teeth. Delta Dental advises parents to monitor and limit the number of these beverages their children are consuming to help prevent cavities.
“Young athletes do need to replace fluids, carbohydrates, protein and electrolytes after hard exercise,” said Dr. Scott Navarro, vice president of Professional Services and dental director, Delta Dental of New Jersey. “But the high sugar and highly acidic content of sports drinks can increase a child’s susceptibility to tooth decay and enamel erosion if too much is consumed.”
Like soda, energy and sports drinks contain high levels of acidity and high concentrations of sugar. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that 12 ounces of a leading brand of cola and a leading brand of energy drink each contained 42 grams of sugar, while a leading sports drink contained 21 grams of sugar. 1 According to a University of Iowa study, a leading sports drink had the greatest erosion potential on both enamel and roots of teeth when compared to leading brands of energy drinks, soda, and apple juice. 2
Sugar itself doesn’t rot teeth, but the acid that is produced when sugar mixes with certain bacteria in the mouth does. Decay forms around the parts of the tooth where the plaque accumulates. The high acid from the drinks themselves can also have an erosive effect on the whole surface of the tooth. Sugary, acidic drinks are particularly damaging when they are sipped frequently throughout the day because they spend a prolonged amount of time washed over the teeth.
Instead of buying the 32 or 64 ounce bottles of sports drink, limit kids to a single 12 to16 ounce bottle. Encourage kids to consume as much water as they do sports drink. Drinking water will help them stay hydrated during outdoor activities and make sure any residual sports drink doesn’t linger on their teeth. Another option is to dilute the sports drink with water to lower the concentration of acidity and sugar. If your kids find water boring, consider adding slices of orange, lemon or cucumber to make it more appealing. Interestingly enough, recent studies suggest that low-fat chocolate milk may be as good as a sports drink at promoting recovery between workouts. 3
“As with all beverages that contain significant amounts of sugar,” Dr. Navarro said, “moderation is the key to maintaining good oral health.”
About Delta Dental
Delta Dental of New Jersey Inc. is New Jersey’s leading dental benefits company, providing or administering coverage to more than 1.5 million people through contracts with employers in New Jersey and Connecticut. In Connecticut, Delta Dental Insurance Company writes dental coverage on an insured basis and Delta Dental of New Jersey administers self-funded dental benefit programs.The Delta Dental system offers seamless dental benefits administration for employer groups throughout the country and has the largest network of dentists in the nation. For more information, visit www.deltadentalnj.com.
1 Harvard School of Public Health. How Sweet Is It? Accessed June 2012. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/how-sweet-is-it/index.html
2 University of Iowa College of Dentistry. Acidic Beverages Increase the Risk of In Vitro Tooth Erosion. Accessed June 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2516950/
3 Spaccarotella KJ, Andzel WD. Building a beverage for recovery from endurance activity: a review. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Nov;25(11):3198-204.