Valparaiso Pediatric Dentist | The Truth About Sports Drinks

sports drinks and teeth

Kids and teens love sports drinks.  In fact, studies have shown that these “thirst quenchers” are consumed by 62% of adolescents every day.  But are they good for your child’s body or teeth? And are they truly necessary for sports performance?  Here are a few facts:

Sports drinks contain more sugar than you may realize.

After water, the second ingredient in some popular brands of sports drinks is high fructose corn syrup. Some sports drinks contain as much as 19 grams of added sugar which means that bacteria present in your child’s mouth are being given exactly what they need to grow.

The high acidity of sports drinks can damage tooth enamel.

A 2012 study showed that sports drinks often have high acidity.  This acid interferes with the mouth’s ability to regulate a healthy pH and can lead to the wearing away of enamel.  While tooth enamel is literally the hardest substance in the human body, it’s no match for a steady stream of acid.

Sports drinks are full of salt.

Some sports drinks contain up to 200 milligrams of sodium per serving.  Keep in mind that a “serving” is usually 8 ounces, which means that a large bottle of the leading sports drink can have more sodium than a bag of potato chips.

Sports drinks can be high in calories.

Even though they generally contain fewer calories than soda, sports drinks can still be high in calories due to their serving sizes and the large amount that many kids drink.  Sports drinks make up 10-15% of the daily caloric intake of most teens and aside from their intended purpose, these beverages aren’t always consumed in conjunction with sports.

Sports drinks are best suited for intense physical activity.

If your child is participating in an intense game with constant movement and an elevated heart rate, a small serving of sports drinks may come in handy from time to time.  But most youth sports don’t involve that level of activity.  Fluoridated water is almost always a better choice.

The bottom line is that most kids don’t really need sports drinks.  Consuming what amounts to sugar water simply isn’t necessary for the majority of sports or outdoor activities.  We encourage you to read labels and be aware of everything your child drinks.  Keep your child hydrated and make certain that you child is drinking plenty of water.