Sports Drinks – Damaging Your Teeth?

Sports Drinks – A healthy choice or damaging teeth?

As summer approaches, there are going to be more athletes, young and old, looking for ways to quench the thirst brought about by exercise.

Many people believe the marketing hype that claims that ‘sports drinks’ help performance and are necessary to replace minerals lost through sweating.  The reality is that most people, other than elite and endurance sportspeople, don’t require drinks to replenish minerals lost in sweat.

That raises the question of there being any reason why all sportspeople should not use ‘sports drinks’.  There certainly is!

Sports drinks can cause irreversible damage to teeth.   They are very acidic (low pH) and they dissolve the enamel and dentine of the teeth.  Add to this their high sugar content, which promotes tooth decay, and one has a ‘recipe for disaster’.

Unfortunately, I often see patients, some as young as their early teens, who have severely damaged teeth as a result of erosion from using acidic drinks, especially sports drinks.

The table below shows the pH of a variety of drinks.  Enamel dissolves at a pH below 5.5   From the table (red is BAD, green is good), it is quite apparent that the best way for most regular sports-people to re-hydrate when playing sport is to drink WATER!

DRINK TYPE pH (ACIDITY)
Lime Juice concentrate Farmland 2.1
Coca Cola 2.3
Pepsi 2.3
Carbonated/sports drinks Lucozade 2.5
Red Eye 2.6
Lemonade Kirks 2.6
Lift Plus 2.6
G Force 2.7
Pasito 2.8
Jacob’s Creek Riesling 2.8
GATORADE 2.9
Lychee lime juice Trufruit 2.9
Red Bull 3.1
POWERADE 3.1
STAMINADE 3.1
Orange drink Golden Circle 3.1
Ginger Beer Bundaberg 3.1
V Energy Drink 3.2
Chardonnay Vintage Orlando Wines 3.2
Sarsparilla 3.4
Apple Isle 3.4
Cabernet sauvignon Wyndham Estate 3.4
Jacob’s Creek Shiraz 3.4
Guava juice Trufruit 3.5
Shiraz cabernet sauvignon Penfolds 3.5
Slam 3.6
Apple Juice Berri 3.6
Orange Juice Berri 3.7
XXXX Bitter Beer 3.8
Heineken Lager Beer 3.8
Victoria VB Bitter 3.8
XXXX Bitter Light Beer 3.9
James Boag Premium Beer 3.9
Budweiser Beer 3.9
Carlsberg Beer 3.9
Coffee Expresso Brewed Victoria Coffee 5.6
Tea Lipton’s Breakfast 6.8
Coconut Juice Coconut Palm Group 6.9
Spring water Evian 7.4

If you insist on using sports drinks, please try to drink the whole bottle ‘at once’.  NEVER SIP SPORTS DRINKS or any other acidic (low pH) drinks.  Using water immediately after the sports drink may help to dilute and remove some of the acidic liquid.

Don’t brush your teeth immediately after consuming acidic drinks.  The acid softens the enamel and the brushing can remove the softened enamel.  Wait at least an hour before you brush your teeth.

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