Active Aussies neglecting their teeth

Dr Peter Aldritt, chair of the ADA's oral health committee.
Dr Peter Aldritt, chair of the ADA’s oral health committee.

Active Australians across the country are unknowingly damaging their teeth, unaware of the dental health risks associated with excessive consumption of sports and intra-workout drinks.

Research released today reveals that while one in three (35.1 per cent) active adults drink sports or intra- workout drinks at least once a week when exercising, they are unaware that the amount of acid in these drinks can lead to teeth erosion in as little as five days of daily use. While saliva is a powerful natural defence mechanism against erosion, if teeth are exposed to the acids in sports drinks too often, saliva does not have enough time to repair the damage.

The research also found nearly half (46.1 per cent) of active adults and parents of active children are unaware of the potential dental damage associated with the excessive consumption of these drinks.

The research, commissioned by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) and conducted with 1,262 active Australians and parents of active children across Australia, has been released to mark ADA Dental Health Week (3 – 9 August). The findings demonstrate more needs to be done to educate Australians about dangers associated with regular consumption of sports and intra-workout drinks.

In Australia, three in ten adults have untreated tooth decay and an alarming 50 per cent of children under the age of 12 have experienced untreated tooth decay in their permanent teeth.

“Over the last few decades, the oral health of Australians has started to deteriorate, and in particular we are seeing higher levels of dental disease than ever before,” said Dr Peter Alldritt, Dentist and Chair of the ADA’s Oral Health Committee.

Dr Alldritt continued: “Our research has found that while active Australians are doing the right thing by looking after their health and fitness, it is worrying to see that nearly one in two are neglecting their dental health by excessively drinking sports drinks, sipping them over long periods of time frequently each week, causing potentially permanent damage to their teeth.”

The research results also revealed that a concerning one fifth (18.9 per cent) of active Australians choose to ignore the warning signs, admitting that they would not change their behaviour upon learning of the potential damage these drinks can cause.

“Many are oblivious to the grave risks associated with sports and intra-workout drinks, and of even greater concern, many are choosing to ignore the facts when they are aware of the dental damage these drinks can cause and are actively choosing to drink them anyway,” said Dr Alldritt.

Sports and intra-workout drinks are created for elite, endurance athletes to help prevent dehydration, heat stroke and muscle cramps. While these drinks are marketed, sold to, and consumed by everyday Australians, including children, they are not intended for everyday use.

“In doing this research, we were worried to learn that parents are no more informed than active adults, with nearly a third letting their children drink sports drinks at least once a week,” said Dr Alldritt.

“A third of parents were also unaware of the dental damage that excessive consumption of sports drinks can cause, such as tooth erosion, which then makes teeth prone to cavities and decay.”

When it comes to mouthguard use, three in four (75 per cent) active adults who do wear mouthguards wear uncertified, over-the-counter mouthguards, thinking their teeth are protected when playing sport. One in two (53.3 per cent) parents admit they let their children wear over-the-counter mouthguards as well.

“Not all mouthguards provide adequate protection, and in some cases, can cause even more damage,” said Dr Alldritt. “We urge active adults and the parents of active children to visit their dentist before their next game and have a custom made mouthguard fitted – the only type of mouthguard recommended by dentists.

During Dental Health Week (3-9 August), people seeking information on how to protect their teeth from damage caused by sports drinks are being encouraged to visit designed to provide information on dental health and educational resources on steps to prevent dental damage.

Previous articleFunding boost for Vic oral health
Next articleStopping staff separation


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here