Sugary sports drinks and their effects on dental health.

February 7, 2017

A recent study by the University of Cardiff into children’s habits of drinking sports drinks has found some interesting statistics regarding when and why sports drinks are consumed by children and the effects these can have on their dental health.

Of the 160 children who took part in the survey 89.4% of them stated that they drank sports drinks, with half of them drinking sports drinks at least twice a week.

Sports drinks do have their benefits, though they are designed to be drunk to aid physical and athletic performance and not as a recreational drink, especially not by young people.

The survey conducted by the University of Cardiff found that the main reason children drank sports drinks was their taste (90%). Another study run by the Independent found that over half of the children who drink sports drinks (55%) claimed they usually drank sports drinks at home or socially, rather than during athletic or sporting activities.

The problem here however is not necessarily the sports drinks themselves, but when and why they are drunk. Sports drinks are formulated to aid physical and athletic activities and so contain a high level of sugars to give a faster absorption of carbohydrates so that muscles can perform at their best. 

If you’re training to be a gold medallist, then sports drinks could be of benefit. But if you’re main exercise involves walking to the local shop to buy your favourite sugary sports drink, you may be doing more damage to your oral health and be at higher risk of other diseases such as diabetes.

Lucazade sport, for example, contains 27g of sugar (7 teaspoons) per 750ml bottle, which is 50% of you recommended guideline allowance. When training for sporting events, or partaking in plenty of physical exercise, the body burns off these extra calories, meaning the sugar in sports drinks is put to good use. But when drunk purely for taste, the sugar in these drinks is not being used in the same way.

Too much sugar in your diet is often cited as one of the largest causes of tooth decay as bacteria in your mouth feed off these sugars, producing acid. This acid can then lead to the development of cavities and tooth decay.

Thankfully there are ways that you can reduce the risk of cavities and tooth decay. The first factor would be to reduce the amount of sugary foods and drinks you consume. The less sugar you have, the less acid the bacteria in your mouth will produce.  You can also help by maintaining a good oral hygiene routine and visiting your dentist for regular check-ups and hygiene appointments.

To help encourage kids to maintain good oral health routines you can also download apps such as the “change4life sugar smart app”. Kids love apps, and this makes learning about sugar levels in food and the effects of sugar on your oral health more interesting.

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Original study :​