Could sports drinks be to blame for athletes’ poor teeth?

October 19, 2019

Elite athletes have been found to have poor dental health despite putting more effort into looking after them than other people, a study, highlighted by the dentists at Drayton Dental Care in School Road, shows.

UCL scientists interviewed 352 British athletes, including those preparing to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.

It showed they were far more likely to brush twice a day and floss between their teeth, but still struggled.

Many previous studies have shown athletes, from footballers to London 2012 competitors, have problems with their oral health. Around half of elite athletes in the UK have signs of tooth decay compared with around a third of similarly aged adults.

The latest study, published in the British Dental Journal, attempted to explore why. Academics interviewed competitors from 11 sports, including cycling, swimming, rowing, hockey, sailing, athletics as well as rugby and football.

It showed:

  • 94% of athletes brushed their teeth twice a day compared with 75% of the general public
  • 44% flossed regularly compared with 21% of the public
  • Smoking rates and overall diets were also much better in the elite athletes.

"However, they use sports drinks, energy gels and bars frequently during training and competition," said Dr Julie Gallagher, one of the UCL researchers.

She added: "The sugar in these products increases the risk of tooth decay and the acidity of them increases the risk of erosion. This could be contributing to the high levels of tooth decay and acid erosion we saw during the dental check-ups."

  • 87% used sports drinks
  • 59% used energy bars
  • 70% used energy gels

Other explanations include the mouth becoming dry due to breathing heavily during exercise so there is less protection from saliva in the mouth.

Are you concerned about your use of sports drinks and energy gels?

Of course, it is not only sportspeople who use energy drinks and gels, they are becoming increasingly popular with teenagers, students and young professionals.

Would you like to discuss your dental health or use of sports drinks and energy gels? Please contact us today. The door to our dental practice is always open to new patients from across Drayton, Taverham, Hellesdon, Horsford, Thorpe Marriott and the surrounding Norwich villages.

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