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Sports Drinks May Damage Teeth

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

040509healthlines1

Those sports drinks that your young athlete loves to sip on may provide an energy boost, but they could also be eroding their teeth a new study suggests.

Findings by New York University dental researchers show many popular energy drinks contain levels of acid that can cause tooth erosion, hypersensitivity and staining. The beverages can also cause excessive tooth wear and may damage underlying bone-like material, causing teeth to soften and weaken the researchers say. They also say the drinks may possibly trigger conditions leading to severe tooth damage and loss.

“This is the first time that the citric acid in sports drinks has been linked to erosive tooth wear,” says Mark Wolff, DDS, professor and chairman of the department of cardiology and comprehensive care at New York University College of Dentistry.

He says people who use sports energy drinks for energy should brush their teeth immediately after drinking the beverages. Softened enamel, he says, is highly susceptible to the abrasive properties of toothpaste.

The five sports drinks tested were Vitamin water, Life Water, Gatorade, Powerade and Propel Fit Water. The study involved cows’ teeth that were cut in half. Half of the specimens were immersed in a sports drink, the other half in water. Cows’ teeth were used because of their close resemblance to human teeth.

All the teeth immersed in a sports drink softened, but Gatorade and Powerade caused “significant” staining, according to an abstract of the study.

Craig Stevens, spokesman for the American Beverage Association, says such studies are unfair and do not present “an accurate or actual picture of the way sports drinks are consumed.”

“The testing procedures they used are outside the realm of what happens in real life,” he says. “Beverages pass right through the mouth, and these beverages have a purpose, and are proven to enhance physical performance. To use them like this is simply providing unhelpful information to consumers.”

He adds: “To suggest that sports drinks are a unique cause of dental caries or tooth erosion is overly simplistic. Oral health is determined by a variety of factors, including types of food consumed and the length of time foods are kept in the mouth.”

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