Sports drinks a big danger to teeth, say dentists

sports drinks

New research shows that one in three active NSW adults drink sports or intra-workout drinks at least once a week while exercising – but they’re not aware that these acidic drinks can cause teeth erosion in as little as five days of daily use.

The research, commissioned by the Australian Dental Association, found 46.5% of active NSW adults and parents of active children aren’t aware of the potential risks of excessive sports drink use.

The ADA has released the results to mark ADA Dental Health Week (3-9 August).

In Australia, three in 10 adults have untreated tooth decay and 50% of children under the age of 12 have experienced untreated tooth decay in their permanent teeth.

“Over the last few decades, the oral health of Australians has started to deteriorate, and in particular we are seeing higher levels of dental disease than ever before,” says Dr Dominic Aouad, general dentist and ADA member.

“Our research has found that while active NSW residents are doing the right thing by looking after their health and fitness, it is worrying to see that nearly one in two are neglecting their dental health by excessively drinking sports drinks, sipping them over long periods of time frequently each week, causing potentially permanent damage to their teeth.”

The research results also revealed that a concerning one fifth (18%) of active NSW residents choose to ignore the warning signs, admitting that they would not change their behaviour upon learning of the potential damage these drinks can cause.

“Many are oblivious to the grave risks associated with sports and intra-workout drinks, and of even greater concern, many are choosing to ignore the facts when they are aware of the dental damage these drinks can cause and are actively choosing to drink them anyway,” says Aouad.

Sports and intra-workout drinks are created for elite, endurance athletes to help prevent dehydration, heat stroke and muscle cramps. Whilst these drinks are marketed, sold to, and consumed by everyday Australians, including children,  they are not intended for everyday use.

“In doing this research, we were worried to learn that NSW parents are no more informed than active adults, with nearly a third letting their children drink sports drinks at least once a week,” says Aouad.

The Rethink Sugary Drink campaign is also urging Australians to cut out sports drinks for good as part of Dental Health Week.

Dr Peter Alldritt, Chair of the ADA Oral Health Committee and Rethink Sugary Drink supporter, says sports drinks contain up to 13 teaspoons of sugar per bottle – more than a can of Coca-Cola.

“Not only are sports drinks acidic and high in sugar, but people tend to sip on them frequently during exercise rather than consuming them all at once. This increases the time that teeth are exposed and leaves them vulnerable to dental damage,” says Dr Alldritt.

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