The purpose of sports drinks is being misunderstood, according to a recent study by the British Dental Journal, a study which clearly shows evidence of secondary school–age children, particularly those in the 12-14 age bracket being attracted to these high-sugar and low-pH [high acid content] level drinks, which places them at an increased risk of dental cavities, enamel erosion and also, obesity.
They consume the sports drinks for reasons other than increasing their sports performance, however, these drinks contain both free sugars and acids, hence they have the ability to cause both dental caries and erosion. We already know there is a strong relationship between eating foods high in free sugars and dental cavities.
Many sports drinks have a pH below 5.5 which is the critical pH for the demineralization of enamel. This leads to erosion. Dehydration associated with physical activity increases erosion risk, as the buffering capacity is inhibited due to lower salivary flow. Dehydration also reduces clearance of acids and sugars from the tooth surface, affecting both erosion and caries. Therefore from a dental perspective sports drinks are a perfect cocktails for dental disaster!
We would urge parents, where possible, to limit the consumption of sports drinks by children, and try to make sure they are aware of the damage over-consumption can do to their teeth.