Advertisers of sports drinks usually target teenagers with their products. And their ads are effective, because statistics show that sports drinks and energy drinks are popular among children and teens. What are some of these advertisers’ claims? That their drinks are great for replacing electrolytes that are lost in strenuous sports activities. As a family dental practice in Gilbert, AZ, we have some thoughts about the effects of sports drinks on teeth that you might want to read. So which is the better choice: sports drinks or water during exercise?
Water or Sports Drinks?
There may be some advantage of drinking the electrolytes in sports drinks for certain extreme sports activities or very intense workouts. But for most sports activities, doctors say plain water can replenish just as effectively. Sports drinks contain some minerals, carbohydrates, and flavoring, as well as those electrolytes that the advertisers hold up as the main benefit of their products. Unfortunately, these drinks are also highly acidic. And acid is very hard on the protective enamel of teeth. If a child or teen is drinking sports drinks throughout an afternoon, that drink is turning to acid in their mouth; acid that can help wear away their enamel. And once tooth enamel is gone, there is no longer any defense for teeth. That’s why it’s critical to care for our enamel from childhood to old age.
The calories and sugar found in some sports drinks not only create a poor environment for healthy teeth and gums, but they can also contribute to obesity and diabetes. Any carbs that add to a diet without adding much nutritional value should be consumed sparingly, and not as part of a regular diet. There are some sports drinks made without sugar, which are better than their sugar-filled counterparts. But if you’re worried about your teen or child replenishing their electrolytes during a sporting event or physical activity, this statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics states,
“For most children and adolescents, daily electrolyte requirements are met sufficiently by a healthy balanced diet; therefore, sports drinks offer little to no advantage over plain water.”
Based on this information, if your child eats well they will be getting enough electrolytes for their growing bodies. With the exception of kids involved in intense sports regimes or activities, water is nature’s powerful liquid that helps most children and teens stay hydrated. They simply need to be sure to drink more water while engaging in sports activities.
In addition, drinking water also helps with saliva production, which is good for teeth and gums. And drinking enough clear, cool water helps to regulate the heart, as well as other bodily systems. In short, if your teen or child is involved in moderate sports activities, water is a great choice for rehydration and overall health!
Changing the Diet
If you understand the often harmful effects of sports drinks on teeth, it’s easy to consider changing direction and picking up that bottle of water. And when you realize all the benefits of water, the choice is made even easier! We’ll look more closely at how water helps our bodies in another blog post. Until then, remember to take good care of your teeth and gums, for better overall health. And if you live in the Phoenix Valley, remember to schedule your biannual dental checkups and cleanings with our Lifetime Family Dental office in Gilbert, AZ.