A high number of children aged 12 to 14 years are regularly consuming sports drinks for reasons other than increasing their sports performance, according to a study published in the June issue of British Dental Journal.
Researchers at Cardiff University School of Dentistry in the United Kingdom conducted a questionnaire survey of 160 children in four schools in South Wales. They found that nearly 90 percent of respondents said they consume sports drinks, with 68 percent saying they consumed them regularly — one to seven drinks a week.
"The purpose of sports drinks are being misunderstood and this study clearly shows evidence of high school–age children being attracted to these high-sugar and low-pH [high acid content] level drinks, leading to an increased risk of dental cavities, enamel erosion and obesity," said Maria Morgan, senior lecturer in dental public health at Cardiff University.
Only 18.2 percent of the youth said they consumed sports drinks to boost their performance in sports.
The authors said, "Sports drinks contain both free sugars and acids, hence these drinks have the ability to cause both dental caries and erosion. There is a strong relationship between eating foods high in free sugars and dental [cavities]."
They continued: "Many sports drinks have a pH below 5.5, the critical pH for the demineralization of enamel, leading 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."
The authors of the study concluded, "Dental health professionals should be aware of the popularity of sports drinks with children when giving health education advice or designing health promotion initiatives."
Complete results from the study can be seen at http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v220/n12/full/sj.bdj.2016.449.html
To learn more about the effect sports drinks can have on your teeth, visit MouthHealthy.org.© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.