Even though we have roughly another month and a half before Summer ends, most of us have started turning our attention to the Fall season. School is starting again and sport practices will not be far behind. Staying hydrated will be just as important, if not more important in the weeks to come as they were in mid June. One of the more common causes of tooth decay can be traced back to the choices we make on what to drink. Most of us know that Soda’s are bad for our teeth, but what about sports drinks or fruit juice?
Fruit Juice: Apple juice, Orange juice, Grape juice, etc. IF made from 100% fruit juice then it is a healthy and nutritious addition to your day. However, the natural sugars in fruit juice provide enough food for bacteria to thrive and start causing tooth decay. Typically, fruit juices are also fairly acidic. Being acidic compounds the rate of tooth decay.
Sports drinks: Powerade, Gatorade, Vitamin Water, etc. Sports drinks are designed and formulated to replace what your body loses when you sweat (electrolytes, carbohydrates, etc). Sports drinks, like juices, have enough sugars in them to cause tooth decay, in fact the effect may be worse due to the fact that when we sweat our saliva flow is minimal and that is why many of us experience dry mouth during exercise. Saliva is beneficial to our bodies in many ways and one such way is by raising the PH of our mouth to fight the effects of acid caused by bacteria and also to flush the sugars off of our teeth.
Soda: Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Mountain Dew, Sprite, etc., aside from being a very enjoyable treat, almost all sodas are relatively unhealthy and contribute very poorly to rehydration. Sodas are loaded with sugar and are highly acidic; bathing your teeth in soda on a regular basis will not only lead to tooth decay but also, worn, stained and chipped teeth due to the effects of the acid level. Mountain Dew and Sprite are worse still, because of the citric acid used to give them their distinct flavor. Typically the citrus based sodas have more sugar (some up to 2x more) and are severely more acidic.
What about Diet sodas? It is true that a diet soda doesn’t contribute to a sugar level that would normally cause severe damage to our teeth. However, be very careful as diet sodas are still very acidic and still serve a risk for stains, worn and chipped teeth.
My recommendation is that if you wish to enjoy a soda on occasion go right ahead. If you are exercising and want to stay as refreshed as possible then go ahead and drink a sports drink, there is no denying that they help. If you like orange juice or some other kind of 100% fruit juice in the morning, again go right ahead. Most fruit juices are a great source for vitamins and antioxidants which are good for us.
However, to minimize your risk for new tooth decay, buy a bottle of water to rinse with after you are finished. Drink sodas through a straw to minimize the contact with your teeth. Finally, don’t sip on one drink all day. If you decide to drink something other than water, then please drink it quickly, so you can minimize the time that your teeth are in contact with the sugars and acid. Follow through with brushing and flossing on a daily basis will help to keep cavities to a minimum.
We hope everyone had a safe and exciting summer and we look forward to seeing you in the office in the Fall.
Dr. Brandon Esco