Most health-conscious individuals in the Wasilla, Palmer, and Eagle River area exercise regularly. These days, you can’t get to the gym, which means more exercising out in the open air and sun. This can make your exercise more dehydrating. To stay hydrated during workouts, many people rely on sports drinks.

While it’s true that they help maintain electrolyte levels in the body (and pose fewer health risks than energy drinks), the acidity in sports drinks can erode tooth enamel. Some sports drinks are 1000 times more acidic than required to break down tooth enamel, as acidic as any soda. And when tooth enamel erodes, those pearly whites are more susceptible to staining, discoloration, and decay.

ice bucket full of sports drinks on a hot day

Cosmetic Damage from Sports Drinks

Enamel is the bright white outer surface of your teeth. It’s pretty thin, and it should be perfectly smooth. The smoothness helps stains and bacteria slide off the surface. But when you drink acidic sports drinks, it etches your teeth, creating a rough surface. This rough surface traps stains. Since sports drinks contain strong artificial colors, some of that coloring can be trapped there. But the rough surfaces will also trap stains from other foods and drinks.

Teeth whitening is very effective at eliminating these stains. If you have already experienced staining and tooth discoloration it’s time to visit your Anchorage dentist

But the problem can get worse. If you drink enough sports drinks and other acidic beverages, your enamel will thin. Thin enamel lets the color from inside your teeth show through, usually yellow, but sometimes brown or gray. Teeth whitening won’t fix this. Instead, you will benefit from porcelain veneers or crowns, which cover your damaged teeth and present a smooth white (and acid-resistant) surface.

Health Impacts of Sports Drinks

But the damage from sports drinks isn’t just cosmetic. We mentioned that the smoothness of enamel lets bacteria slide off the surface of your teeth. A tooth surface roughened by acid makes it easier for bacteria to hold on, which increases the rate of plaque accumulation on your teeth. The more plaque, the more bacteria will attack your teeth with their own acid, creating holes in your teeth, what dentists call caries but you know as cavities. If you develop cavities, tooth-colored fillings can give you a functional, cosmetic repair.

Thin enamel is also a health problem. It doesn’t just let the darker layers of your teeth show through, it makes your teeth more susceptible to chips, cracks, and breaks. Once your tooth enamel gets thin, your teeth are more likely to be injured by trauma, biting, or chewing. Dental crowns protect your teeth from cracking .

Alternatives to Sports Drinks

So what do you do about hydration while working out? Fresh fruits are a good alternative to get both hydration and nutrients after a workout. However, stick with whole fruit and water–many fruit drinks are as acidic as sports drinks. Coconut water is also a good choice. Don’t be fooled by flavored water–these are also often very acidic and can be damaging to your teeth. However, a simple carbonated mineral water is usually relatively safe.

Avoiding and Repairing Tooth Damage

Excellence in Dentistry has been treating dental patients in the Anchorage area since 1987. The caring staff here can answer any questions you have about preventative oral care and cosmetic dentistry procedures such as veneers, gum contouring, invisible braces, tooth-colored fillings and smile makeovers. Please call (907) 349-0022 today for an appointment.