Many parents give their young athletes sports drinks because they have heard about the many benefits of them. What parents might not know is that sports drinks can be harmful to the teeth and gums. Here are some things to consider before handing your child his or her next sports drink.
How Are Sports Drinks Harmful?
Sports drinks have a high level of acid and sugars. The acids can eat away at the enamel on the teeth. Without enamel, your child's teeth are more susceptible to problems such as dental cavities.
The sugar in sports drinks can also cause cavities, but it can also lead to gum disease. The sugar tends to stick to the teeth and gums. Unless your child is immediately rinsing the sugar from his or her mouth, the sugar is left to harm your child's teeth.
What Can You Do?
Sports drinks are beneficial in other ways. For instance, the drinks can help replace electrolytes which is necessary for avoiding dehydration. If you still want to give your child sports drinks, there are some ways you can minimize the potential damage to his or her teeth.
After your child drinks a sports drink, follow that up immediately with rinsing the mouth. Rinsing the mouth helps to remove some of the sugar and acids that are left from the sports drink. You also should limit the amount of sports drinks that your child consumes.
Wait for at least 30 to 45 minutes following the consumption of a sports drink before allowing your child to brush his or her teeth. The sugar and acids soften the enamel on the teeth. If your child brushes, the enamel is worn down. By waiting to brush, the saliva is allowed to re-mineralize the enamel.
Are There Alternatives?
There are many other healthy alternatives to sports drinks that provide the same benefits without the same impact on your child's teeth. For instance, a banana is a great alternative that can help replenish potassium while working out.
Raisins are also a good alternative. The raisins contain electrolytes and calories needed during a workout. They are also a cheaper alternative to sports drinks. If your child is a cyclist, another healthy option to drinking a sports drink is eating rice with honey. Pair it with a bottle of water and your child will have a mini-snack that helps boost his or her energy without damaging the teeth.
Talk to your pediatric dentist to find out other things you can do to keep your child's teeth and gums healthy while playing sports.