How can hot weather or working out harm your teeth?
By Lee Gurga,
DDS, Apple Dental Center
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Whether it is refreshment from the hot
weather or from an intense workout, sports and energy drinks are
becoming an everyday beverage choice for many folks, especially
teens. Although these products can help the body cope with the
physical demands of vigorous exercise, they wreak havoc with your
The primary culprit is the acidity, or very low pH.
If you recall from your days in high school chemistry, pH is a
measure of acidity or alkalinity, with water being the standard of
neutrality at a pH of 7.0. Sports and energy drinks are very acidic
by design because your body can absorb electrolytes and
carbohydrates much faster in a low pH environment.
Unfortunately, your teeth become demineralized in that same
acidic environment. The enamel coating of your teeth is formed of an
organic matrix that is hardened by minerals, primarily calcium and
phosphorus, and is the hardest substance in your body. But these
minerals can be leached out of the teeth when the pH drops below a
pH of 5.5, and rapid demineralization occurs when the pH drops below
Consumption of sports and energy drinks has increased dramatically
in recent years. It has been reported that over 50 percent of
adolescents consume at least one sports drink per day.
Sports drinks were developed to prevent dehydration and replace
carbohydrates and electrolytes lost during rigorous physical
exercise. Energy drinks, which contain vitamins, carbohydrates and
unregulated amounts of caffeine, were developed to improve energy,
weight loss, stamina, athletic performance and concentration.
A study published in the May-June 2012 issue of General Dentistry
examined the effects of sports and energy drinks on tooth enamel.
The research model mimicked the way the average teenager would
consume these beverages, then measured the amount of minerals taken
from the teeth.
Significant demineralization of the enamel was present after just
five days of exposure to sports and energy drinks.
It was noted that energy drinks produced nearly twice as much
damage as sports drinks.
The average pH of commonly available sports and energy drinks was
found to be 2.91 and 3.05 respectively -- well below the critical
5.5 minimum pH level that your teeth require to remain intact.
Demineralized teeth are much more susceptible to decay, staining and
sensitivity. What is worse, is that this damage is permanent.
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The first step in managing these risks is to minimize the
consumption as much as possible. Weigh the risks and benefits and
decide whether you really need these products. If you must, limit
the amount of time these beverages are in your mouth. In other
words, gulp, don't sip. Always follow with water to help neutralize
the pH of your mouth as quickly as possible. A straw placed in the
back of the mouth can be used to keep the beverage out of contact
with the teeth and oral cavity.
So stay hydrated during these hot summer days, but use these
sports and energy drinks with caution. And don't forget: Water is
your teeth’s best friend.
Reference: "A comparison of sports and energy
drinks--Physiochemical properties and enamel dissolution" by Poonam
Jain, BSD, MS, MPH, Emily Hall-May,MS, Kristi Golabek, Ma Zenia
Agustin PhD. General Dentistry, May/June 2012. Pg. 190-197.
[By LEE GURGA, DDS,
Apple Dental Center]
Lincoln Daily News disclaimer
Articles provided to Lincoln Daily News by Dr. Lee Gurga,
Apple Dental Center, are for information and education purposes
only. Articles are not intended to offer specific medical, dental or
legal advice to anyone. No guarantees or warranties are made
regarding any of the information contained in these articles. The
information contained here should be used in consultation with a
provider of your choice as needed, and no doctor-patient
relationship has been established.