By Susan Braden
Most people know that soft drinks wear down tooth enamel, but studies are showing that sports drinks may cause even more deterioration. The dilemma can be attributed to high acid levels, which wears down the teeth and could eventually cause sensitivity, structure damage and even tooth loss. Someone with severe deterioration may need to see a dentist for treatment, and a dental discount option could make the process more financially manageable.
A recent study by the New York University College of Dentistry used cow teeth to demonstrate the effects of prolonged exposure to sports drinks. After cutting them in half, they placed five teeth in water and five teeth in a sports drink for 75-90 minutes. This would simulate sipping on these beverages throughout the day. They discovered that the ones in the sport beverages were significantly softer and showed signs of erosion.
“This is the first time that the citric acid in sports drinks has been linked to erosive tooth wear,” said study leader Dr. Mark Wolff, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Cariology & Comprehensive Care at the University. In situations like this, the acid eats away at the tooth’s enamel, penetrating the inner part of the tooth as well. The tooth gets softer, weaker and more sensitive to pain when this occurs, and if untreated, frequent sport drink consumption can result in severe damage to the tooth.
Dentists recommend that if drinking one of these beverages is unavoidable, it should be done in moderation. It should not be sipped slowly over a long period of time, as this can wear out the enamel. Experts also say to avoid brushing until at least 30 minutes afterward, because many toothpastes contain properties that could damage a softened tooth. The enamel needs time to become hard again. A dentist may recommend additional steps to help repair affected teeth.
For hydration purposes, drink ice water with just a dash of salt in it — the water hydrates you naturally and the salt replenishes electrolytes. This drink combination also eliminates consumption of acid like that contained in a sports drink. A water solution is also a healthier alternative, consisting of solely water (which comprises 60% of your body!) and the essential mineral salt, rather than the extra sugars and preservatives found in sports drinks.
If the deterioration is too extensive, people experiencing the signs of weak teeth may need to see a cheap dentist for treatment. A dental discount plan may help reduce the financial burden of repairing the problem.