While sports drinks and energy bars might be a great way to refuel after a practice or game, it turns out they’re not so great for your oral health. According to a study published in the British Journal of Medicine, energy bars and drinks could be ruining professional athletes’ teeth, and they could be doing the same thing to yours. Let’s take a closer look with a dentist in Lenox Hill about what exactly that means for you.
What Did the Study Say?
The study looked at over 300 professional athletes and analyzed their dental habits, including how often they brushed and flossed, how much sugar they consumed, and whether they smoked. Because they were elite athletes, they generally take excellent care of their body and have great oral health habits. 40 percent of them claimed to visit their dentist regularly, which is key in maintaining a healthy mouth.
However, 80 percent of the athletes consume sports drinks or energy bars while training and competing. These products are extremely acidic and often sugary, which contributes to cavities, gum disease, and erosion of teeth. In addition, because athletes can get dehydrated easily, they often have a lower saliva content than most people. Saliva washes away particles of food and bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease, so it’s best to have as much of it as you can by staying hydrated.
What Does This Mean for You?
Even if you’re not a professional athlete, you are still vulnerable to the same issues that they are, such as:
- Enamel erosion causing tooth sensitivity
- Tooth decay and cavities
- Gum disease
This means that you’ve got to keep consumption of sports drinks and energy bars to a bare minimum. Also, try to sip energy drinks through a straw and not straight out of the bottle. That way the drink will shoot straight past your teeth and minimize damage. Better yet, drink only water instead. It’s truly the best way to stay hydrated.
Other ways to keep your mouth healthy include:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Flossing every day, preferably right before bed
- Abstaining from smoking
- Consuming very few sugary snacks and drinks
- Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash
- Seeing your dentist at least once every six months for a regular checkup and cleaning
Energy bars and sports drinks are perfectly fine ways to refuel while training for a sports event. However, it’s best to consume them in moderation. When in doubt, substitute them with water. And be sure to follow the steps listed above to keep your teeth and gums in good health.
About the Author
Dr. Dorian Tetelman achieved his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from New York University College of Dentistry in 1995. He has plenty of experience in complex dental procedures like full mouth reconstruction and has a passion for helping smiles stay healthy. To learn more about how to maintain healthy teeth as an athlete, visit Dr. Tetelman’s website or call his office at (212) 319-0090.