Sports drinks have become a popular choice for kids after physical activities like soccer or football.

However, there is a growing concern about the impact these brightly colored beverages have on children’s dental health. In this blog, we explore whether sports drinks are beneficial or detrimental to your child’s teeth.

What Qualifies as a Sports Drink? 

Developed to hydrate and replenish electrolytes lost during physical activity, sports drinks are a popular way for young athletes engaged in intense workouts or sports to stay hydrated.

These products are usually formulated with electrolytes such as potassium and sodium, which help replenish the body’s fluids and maintain a proper balance.

They also often include carbohydrates which benefit the consumer by providing a rapid source of energy. Brands such as Gatorade, Powerade, and BODYARMOR are popular examples of sports drinks and can easily be found in convenience stores.

Are Sports Drinks Safe for My Kid’s Teeth?

While they may seem harmless on the surface, these beverages actually pose risks to your child’s dental health when consumed in excessive amounts.

High Sugar Content 

While generally containing less sugar than sodas, a 28-ounce sports drink still contains about 48 grams of sugar, which is almost double the daily recommended amount of added sugar (25 grams) suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Leftover sugar on the teeth can act as a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that destroy the tooth’s enamel and increase the risk of dental caries.

In our practice, we see a LOT of cavities forming on the teeth of our athletes who consume a lot of sports drinks. Especially in between the teeth, where only flossing can keep plaque from accumulating.

Read also: The 5 Most Common Causes of Cavities in Children

Highly Acidic 

Most sports drinks are also highly acidic, such as from citric acid, which is typically used to enhance flavor and prolong the shelf life of the beverage.

Consuming acidic beverages frequently and in excessive amounts can wear away tooth enamel, exposing the tooth’s dentin and leading to tooth sensitivity, discoloration, and cavities.

Dental Hygiene Practices and Sports Drinks

If your child needs to consume sports drinks, follow the below tips to reduce adverse effects on their oral health:

  • Consume in moderation. Limit sports drink consumption and alternate sips of water with the drink. Many companies also make plain water fortified with electrolytes, which does the same job as Gatorade or Powerade, but without the harmful sugar!
  • Rinse the mouth with water immediately afterward. Have your child swish water around in their mouth and spit it out to help get rid of the sugar from the teeth.
  • Drink more water. Encourage your children to choose water over sports drinks whenever possible.
  • Use a straw to minimize direct contact with the teeth. Encourage them to swallow immediately and avoid swishing the drink in their mouth.
  • Avoid frequent sipping throughout the day or for long periods of time. Sipping on sports drinks over longer periods of time is more harmful than consuming it all in short periods of time, if that’s possible. This gives the oral cavity the ability to recover from the acidic environment created by the sugar and acid in the sports drink, and restore the mouth’s pH to a more tooth-friendly level.
  • Choose tooth-friendly options. Opt for zero-sugar sports drinks or consider alternatives like coconut water.
  • Maintain a good oral hygiene routine. Regular brushing, flossing, and mouth rinsing will wash away leftover sugar in the mouth, thereby reducing the negative effects of sports drinks.

When it comes to healthy hydration options, always turn to water first whenever possible. And remember that maintaining a good oral hygiene routine helps protect teeth against decay and strengthens enamel.

If you are unsure about the types of drinks you should offer your child to keep them hydrated while maintaining oral health, it may be best to consult your pediatric dentist.

Pediatric dentists have extensive knowledge and experience in establishing oral health habits for your child, as well as providing answers to any questions or concerns that come about.

And if you are looking for a trusted and dependable pediatric dentist near you in Lafayette, LA, book an appointment today at Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry!