BOSTON (CBS) – They were created to help rehydrate elite athletes, but sports drinks have become a popular choice for kids on the soccer field and adults trying to stay in shape. Woburn dentist Kevin Mooney says the drinks are acidic and throw off the natural ph balance of the mouth.
“It’s a bonanza for decay,” he says.
That acid causes a breakdown of the enamel which is the protective outer layer of the teeth.
Once you break down that shield, it’s like a field day for the bacteria,” says Mooney. “They are getting everything they need to create decay.”
These drinks have been a concern for some time, but new research published in the General Dentistry magazine shows they do more harm more quickly than previously thought.
Some experts believe they may be contributing to a national surge in tooth erosion and this is not limited to sports drinks. Mooney says energy drinks are twice as bad as sports drinks.
And here’s another problem, it’s not just what you drink, but how. Your saliva works to restore the proper balance, but every time you take a sip it restarts the clock.
“If you are going to drink it, chug it down,” he says. “That’s much better than someone who ‘s sitting there sipping it for an hour.”
The American Beverage Association criticized the study because tests were done on tooth samples soaked in the drinks. They say, “People do not keep any kind of liquid in their mouths for 15 minute intervals for extended periods of time.”
Still, Dr. Mooney says water is the healthiest option and parents should not think of sports drinks as a healthy alternative to sodas.
In fact, Mooney says root beer is the best because it is very close to neutral as far as the ph.
If you absolutely can’t live without your energy boost or your sports drink, dentists say the best thing to do is wash it down with some water. It will help bring your mouth back to a normal ph balance which will protect your teeth.