With Memorial Day just around the corner, summer feels like it is finally on its way! The grass is growing, leaves are on the trees, flowers are blooming and summer sports season for our kids will soon be getting into full swing. Who doesn’t love a warm summer evening at the baseball or soccer field?
Our kids are out on those fields exerting themselves in some pretty hot and humid weather and keeping them hydrated is a major concern. While sports drinks do have their attributes such as replacing water and electrolytes after a very high intensity workout, the amount of sugar and acid in them can be harmful to our kids’ oral health. Sugars and acids can lead to erosion of the enamel and tooth decay. Here’s the low down on how it works: The plaque bacteria in our mouths turn the sugar in those sports drinks into acid. The acid then starts to destroy the hard, outside layer of the teeth, called the enamel and over time, tooth decay can occur.
Kids, and adults alike, are often times drinking these beverages throughout the day, not only during or after exercise. Studies have shown little to no benefit to consuming sports drinks outside of high intensity exercise, only adding unnecessary calories and sugar to our diets.
It gets worse, folks. Energy Drinks.
These acidic beverages can cause up to twice as much damage to the teeth as the average sports drink! Also, the high amounts of caffeine can be extremely dangerous.
Just last week, a South Carolina teen died from too much caffeine – “a caffeine-induced cardiac event, causing a probable arrhythmia” – to be exact. The 16 year old boy had three caffeinated beverages in a two hour time span: a caffe latte, a large Diet Mountain Dew, and an energy drink. This was such a tragic outcome from something many people would consider safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents consume less than 100 mg of caffeine per day. Just one can of Red Bull has 111 mg of caffeine and 37 grams of sugar, and one can of Monster Energy Drink has a whopping 172 mg of caffeine and 54 grams of sugar!
We’ve all heard the Minnesota Dental Association’s slogan “Sip all day, get decay”, but what many people don’t realize is that slogan pertains to not only soda, but sports and energy drinks as well. Let’s make it a point to talk to our kids about the dangers of sports and energy drinks. They are not only causing damage to our teeth, but to our overall health and well being.
Here are some tips to minimize the damage from Sports and Energy Drinks:
- Drink Water! Plain water is best.
- Finish Sports and Energy Drinks quickly. Now, it’s not necessary to guzzle it down, but avoid sipping it for an extended period of time.
- Brush and Floss regularly. The less plaque bacteria on our teeth, the better.
Written by Lisa Mangan, LDA at Pike Lake Dental