Australian parents are unknowingly putting their children’s teeth at risk, as many are unaware of the irreversible damage sports drinks can have on juvenile dental health
The Australian Dental association recently released some very disturbing statistics about Australian children and their oral health, specifically related to Sports drinks and Mouth guards. After reading the article I decided to list a few of this facts that I found most disturbing.
- Over half of the active population are unaware of the dental damage sports drinks can cause with frequent use.
- More than one in three active adults drink at least once a week when exercising.
- 29% of parents allow their active children to drink sports drinks at least once a week when exercising.
So what is a true sports drink?
They are drinks with a specific mix of carbohydrates, electrolytes (mainly sodium and potassium) and water. The intension of the drinks it to ensure the body stays hydrated. The problem is that other ingredients like sucrose, fructose and flavourings such as essences, extracts, cocoa, and fruit juice concentrates are added to make the drink more pleasurable to drink. Some sports drinks also have added ascorbic acid, which can erode tooth enamel. They also contain kilojoules that need to be accounted for across the day to prevent excessive kilojoule intake and potentially weight gain.
Do children need to drink sports drinks?
The best choice is always water. If play or sport last less than 90 minutes a child does not require a sports drink. During exercise, children should be encouraged to consume water by providing them with scheduled, regular water breaks. This can be coupled with a fruit break during half time at sports activities, which will also provides nutrition and keeps them fuelled. The other thing to keep in mind is the child overall diet, if they are getting all the necessary nutrients before, during and after exercise they don’t require the artificial ones provided in sports drinks.
What damage do sports drinks cause?
The acidity and sugar in sports drinks, especially when consumed over long periods of time or out of habit, can cause ‘tooth erosion’ and ‘decay’, which often lead to irreversible damage and the need for otherwise avoidable dental treatment
The facts below are the ADA’s recommendations for Children and adults
Five ways Australians can protect their teeth from damage caused by sports drinks:
- Drink water where possible – it has no acid, no sugar and no kilojoules. Plus the fluoride in water actually protects your teeth. For the majority of people, water is all you need before, during and after exercise.
- Avoid sports and intra-workout drinks where possible, but if you must consume them, avoid sipping them for a long duration of time (i.e. over an hour)
- Use a straw so your teeth are less exposed to the sugar and acid in the drinks.
- Protect your teeth by brushing twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste, and don’t forget to floss at least once a day. Don’t brush your teeth for 60 minutes after consuming acidic beverages, to allow time for the enamel to harden.
- Chew a sugar-free chewing gum to help stimulate saliva flow that will help protect your teeth.
Two more disturbing statistics jumped out at me from this study and they were
- Custom mouth guards are the most effective type of mouth guard, yet when it comes to mouth guard use, only 75% active adults wear over-the-counter mouth guards thinking their teeth are protected when playing team sports.
- You are 60 times more likely to suffer damage to your mouth from not wearing a mouth guard.
Its really simple if you or your children are involved in contact sports you should get a custom fitted mouth guard (made by a dentist) This can help prevent damage to the teeth but also protect the brain from injury. To get a mouth guard made at the dentist in quick and easy and could save lots of pain and money in the future.