NORTHAMPTON, EAST LONGMEADOW AND SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS – You may think that sports and energy drinks help improve your kids’ performance on the field, but they are one of the leading causes of tooth decay for children and teens.
“Most parents are under the impression that sports and energy drinks are not as sugary as soda, so they are OK for their kids to drink,” said Dr. Vincent Mariano, a Northampton and Springfield dentist and prosthodontist at EMA Dental. “Over time, these types of beverages can do just as much damage to their oral and overall health.”
Besides containing large amounts of sugar that often cause cavities, these beverages are also high in acidity. A study recently published in “General Dentistry,” a journal from the Academy of General Dentistry, found that tooth enamel begins to erode after five days of exposure to sports and energy drinks. Teeth are more susceptible to decay, and can become sensitive to touch and temperature change once enamel is eroded.
Sports and energy beverages contain phosphoric and citric acids, but levels of both ingredients vary based on flavor and brand. These acids are also the main erosion agents found in soda, which has a pH comparable to that of battery acid, and produces the same effect on tooth enamel as sports and energy drinks do.
Lost tooth enamel is gone forever, says the Academy of General Dentistry. Fortunately, there are several over-the-counter fluoride rinses and toothpastes that you and your children can use to protect your teeth from future acid attacks.
Not only do sports and energy drinks heighten your kids’ risk of developing cavities, but they also increase their chances of suffering from obesity and diabetes. According to the American Dental Association, the majority of children who exercise do not need to consume sports drinks because those types of beverages are designed to replace water and electrolytes lost during extended, intense periods of physical activity. Because sports drinks are high in carbohydrates, children who drink them on a regular basis can gain weight over time.
Energy drinks and colas are often confused with sports beverages, but they can cause more serious health problems due to the stimulants they contain. Taurine, guarana and caffeine are common ingredients in soda and energy drinks, and are known for causing anxiety and dehydration. They are particularly dangerous to children’s developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems.
The best way to ensure your kids maintain good oral and overall health is to offer them water with meals, as well as during physical activity.
Northampton prosthodontist, Dr. Mariano suggests that if your children do drink sports, energy and cola beverages, they should brush their teeth no sooner than an hour after consumption to avoid spreading the acid around their mouth. Another way to minimize damage done to tooth enamel is to use a straw.
“Chewing sugar-free gum or rinsing their mouth with water after drinking sugary beverages are effortless methods that protect tooth enamel and make a difference over time,” said Dr. Mariano, who offers extreme smile makeovers, including dental implants, to patients from Springfield and other nearby areas. “Activities that increase saliva production can help return acidity levels to normal.”
If your children are under the care of an East Longmeadow or Amherst Invisalign provider or orthodontist, you know that they have to pay special attention to their oral health habits. Dr. Mariano advises his patients who have braces to watch their diet for the duration of their orthodontic treatment because their teeth and gums are more susceptible to decay and periodontitis.
“I have found that patients who establish a healthy oral hygiene routine and eliminate sugary foods and beverages from their diet typically experience better treatment results than those who do not,” said Dr. Lisa Emirzian. “Even though it may require extra effort on patients’ parts, a beautiful smile is worth the sacrifice.”
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