Sports drinks lead to tooth erosion, study finds
Downing sports drinks over the course of the day can lead to erosive tooth wear, according to a study presented today at the International Association for Dental Research annual meeting. The condition, which breaks down the enamel and causes teeth to soften and weaken, affects one in 15 Americans and can result in severe tooth damage and even tooth loss.
“This is the first time that the citric acid in sports drinks has been linked to erosive tooth wear,” said study leader Mark Wolff, chairman of New York University’s Department of Cariology & Comprehensive Care in the College of Dentistry.
Researchers used cow teeth because of their close resemblance to human teeth and put half in a sports drink and half in water.
“Five teeth were immersed in each drink for 75 to 90 minutes to simulate the effects of sipping on sports drinks over the course of the day,” Wolff said.
Those in the sports drink had significant erosion and softening.
And brushing your teeth immediately afterward won’t help — in fact, it can hurt, Wolff says, because softened enamel is very susceptible to the abrasive properties of toothpaste. He recommends:
• Consuming sports drinks in moderation
• Waiting 30 minutes before brushing
• Asking your dentist about acid-neutralizing remineralizing toothpaste
The researchers used top-selling sports drinks, but didn’t name the brands.
Craig Horswill, the senior research fellow at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, disputes the research.
“This study does not replicate real life as the teeth were studied extracted from the mouth. Ohio State University recently conducted a study of some 300 athletes, the most comprehensive to date, and concluded that there is no relationship between the consumption of sports drinks and dental erosion,” he says.
The 2002 OSU study to which he’s referring found that out of 279 consumers of sports drinks, 64% did not have any dental erosion and 36% had dental erosion. Conversely, out of the 25 athletes who did not consume any sports drinks, 60% did not have any dental erosion and 40% had erosion.
The study was supported by a grant from Quaker Oats, which, along with Gatorade, is owned by PespiCo.