Sports Drinks & Tooth Decay

by Capt. Wah-Yung Tsang
86th Dental Squadron dentist

Have you ever wondered how beneficial sports drinks are? Sports drinks have high sugar content and acid levels that contribute to tooth decay. In the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Dr. Alex Milosevic of the University of Liverpool in England reported the case of a 23-year-old cross-country and marathon runner whose upper teeth had eroded from drinking sports drinks regularly for the past year.

What does this mean for you — skip the sports drinks. As Kurt Butler said in A Consumers’ Guide to Alternative Medicine, “they do efficiently replenish body fluids after a marathon or near-marathon. But they provide no competitive edge over those drinking less costly fluids.”  Water is still your best choice for fluid replacement.

Read labels carefully; know that one teaspoon of sugar is equal to about 4.2 grams in weight. If your bottle of sports drink says 44 grams of sugar, you would divide 44 by 4.2 which is equal to 10 teaspoons of sugar. The World Health Organization recommends limiting sugar intake to 45 grams (~11 teaspoons) a day or less. Getting more will slow absorption and may cause stomach cramps. Also, when drinking sports drinks, don’t sip or swish. The longer they stay in your mouth, the more damage they can do to your teeth. So next time you reach for your favorite sports drink take a moment to remember the dental consequences.

Please stay tuned all month as we celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month with information you and your child should know about taking care of your teeth. For questions or concerns contact the 86th Dental Squadron at 479-2210 or 06371-46-2210.