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Sports drinks are pretty common on major sporting events particularly on hot days. Their job is to replace the lost fluids from sweating, particularly carbohydrates and electrolytes. 


However, the citric acids found in sports drinks can be harmful to your teeth and oral health. What do the sports experts think?

When the Pan AM torch came through Sudbury it reminded me to share, “sports drinks can be harmful for your oral health. “


Sports drinks are pretty common on major sporting events particularly on hot days. Their job is to replace the lost fluids from sweating with a particular reference to replacing:

Electrolytes (minerals such as sodium & potassium) that help maintain the acid-base balance for normal cell activities

Carbohydrates which is there to replace the blood glucose used by the muscles during heavy exercise.

Sports drinks manufacturers claim that water just doesn’t cut it as a replacement because it causes bloating and doesn’t contain electrolytes or carbohydrates.


The problem though is that sports drinks contain citric acid which acts as corrosive against your teeth and gums.


But oral health aside, do elite athletes need a sport drink replenishment?


Nigel Armstrong Lead Clinician for the Salaried Dental Services suggests that many “unsuspecting people are overconsuming sports drinks that inevitably leads to an increase, in tooth decay and poor oral health.”


Armstrong, himself a one-time Manx Mountain Marathon Winner stated that:


“The body stores sufficient carbohydrates to run about 18 miles, and workout in a gym or walk quickly for approximately 3 hours. Truth be known, sports drinks don’t offer any more performance value over plain water. Constantly sipping water according to your thirst signals shouldn’t be overlooked."


A recent report on athletes at the 2012 London Olympics clearly showed that many elite athletes had poor oral health with high levels of tooth decay, erosion and other dental problems. And the constant tooth pain affected the well-being and overall performance of many elite athletes from eating, drinking to training and overall performance.


What should an elite athlete do?


Armstrong recognizes that athletes or anyone doing endurance training probably does need a sports drink at one point in time. But he recommends either drinking it through a straw, colder rather than warmer and either rinsing with water right after completing the drink – or simply diligently brushing your teeth.


The damage is done in the first 30 seconds, so waste no time.


And for the rest of us?


Probably just best to avoid sports drinks and stick to sipping water during the weekend. Keep active! And Enjoy the Pan Am Games. 


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