Sports drinks can wreck your teeth

4th December 2012

Sports drinks and energy drinks are highly popular these days, but we need to warn you that they have extremely high acidity levels which can cause irreversible damage to your teeth by eroding their protective enamel layer.

This guide will explore the ins and outs of tooth enamel erosion and how to prevent it.

Tooth Enamel Explained

Enamel is the tough shell protecting your teeth and is actually the hardest tissue in the human body. But because enamel is not made up of living cells, it does not regenerate – this means any damage to it will be permanent.

Enamel helps protect your teeth from daily wear and tear. It also insulates teeth from painful temperatures and harmful chemicals. In addition, if there are cracks in your enamel, food and drinks can seep into your dentin and cause your teeth to become discoloured. All in all, without the protection of this glossy outer layer, teeth become overly sensitive and prone to cavities.

How Enamel Becomes Eroded

Tooth erosion is caused when sugar creates acids that attack and wear away your enamel, leaving teeth unprotected. Sports and energy drinks tend to have extremely high levels of sugar, while fizzy drinks also contain harmful phosphoric and citric acids. Even fruit drinks can contain natural acids that are more corrosive than battery acid!

Other factors which put enamel at risk are alcohol (especially wine), low saliva flow (since saliva acts to wash away harmful acids) and a diet high in sweet things.

Finally, excessive wear and tear can obviously cause cracks in your enamel, so be sure not to brush your teeth overly hard or open things using your mouth, and speak to your dentist if you find yourself grinding your teeth or even biting your nails often.

Also bear in mind that you could be genetically predisposed to having weak enamel, in which case you’ll need to be extra careful.

Spotting Enamel Erosion

These are some of the main signs of enamel erosion:

  • Sensitivity – when enamel becomes damaged, your teeth are more susceptible to cavities, which if left untreated will penetrate the tooth to affect its internal nerve fibres and cause pain. In the early stage of enamel erosion, sweet things and hot or cold drinks will tend to cause a twinge of discomfort, while in the later stages you can experience extreme pain.
  • Discoloration – as the enamel erodes and more dentin is exposed to food and beverages, teeth become yellow and see through.
  • Cracks and chips – the edges of your teeth will feel rough, irregular and jagged as enamel erodes.
Preventing Enamel Erosion from Sugary Drinks

We strongly recommend you limit your intake of sugary or acidic drinks as much as possible. When you do ingest any of the things listed above that cause acidity, at least rinse your mouth with water or chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva flow.

It’s also wise to wait at least an hour after drinking sports and energy drinks etc. to brush your teeth, as brushing can cause the acid to spread further onto your teeth surfaces.

Conclusion

If you have enamel damage, talk to us so we can advise you further. If we find your enamel erosion is significant, there are remedies we can provide, such as covering the tooth with a bonding or ceramic veneer to prevent further decay.

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