How Sports Drinks Can Cause Irreparable Damage to a Child’s Teeth
With warm summer months approaching, Stephen J. Pyle DDS, Weston’s leading pediatric dentist wants to make sure you understand the importance of limiting your child’s consumption of soda and sports drinks to quench their thirst. Hot weather means thirsty weather and every cola or sports drink your kids drink contributes to weakening the enamel on their teeth.
Sodas are big business. Over 15 billion gallons of cola is sold each year, enough to provide one 12 ounce drink per day to every man, woman and child in the country for a year. In reality however, kids represent the biggest consumers of these beverages. By the time a child reached their teens they are drinking at least 3 sodas per day.
Colas are big business but sports drinks are not far behind. While sports drinks do help athletes rehydrate, they are also used by kids simply as a thirst quencher. Sports drinks, like cola, present a hazard to a child’s dental hygiene and overall health.
The Marketing is Sexy – The Results are Dangerous
Sports figures make great marketing people. They sell everything from shoes to gear to car insurance to BBQ grills and of course sports drinks. Kids flock to the drinks and that’s a bad thing.
Sports drinks, like colas, are high in sugar content, low in nutrients and contain phosphorous. The sugar and associated calories contribute to childhood obesity. The phosphorous in sports drinks breaks down calcium weakening bones.
A recent study by the University of Maryland Dental School determined that carbonated beverages and sports drinks can cause irreversible damage to dental enamel, potentially resulting in severe tooth decay and gum disease.
Dental enamel from cavity free molars was continuously exposed to a variety of colas and sports drinks for the equivalent of 13 years of average consumption. There was no doubt that the colas broke down the enamel but the important discovery was sports drinks did three to eleven times more damage. The difference in damage was attributed to the phosphorus and different citric acids found in sports drinks.
How to Counter the Effects of Sports Drinks
The obvious way to minimize pediatric dental problems caused by sports drinks is to substitute water for the drink. That’s probably not realistic particularly if your kid is in organized sports and the team is serving Gator Ade or something similar.
Saliva is nature’s protection for enamel but typically your kid will be dry mouthed if they are playing sports when they drink the stuff. Chewing a stick of sugarless gum immediately after consuming a sports drink will stimulate the production of saliva and help protect the enamel from the adverse effects.
Of course brushing and flossing is the ultimate protection but again, not practical until your child gets home.
At Dr. Pyle’s Weston dental office we believe that dental hygiene education is just as important as dental treatment. Explain to your children the damage that can be done by excessive drinking of soda and sports drinks. If you need help with that talk don’t hesitate to call our office today and we can arrange the conversation.