Australians unaware of dental risks posed by sports drinks

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Sports-drinksFew Australians are aware of the dental health risks inherent in the consumption of sports drinks, new research indicates. In a study by the the Australian Dental Association [ADA], released to mark its Dental Health Week, the findings indicate that half of active Australians are unaware of the damage sports drinks can do to their teeth, with one third of parents admitting to allowing their children to consume sports drinks at least once per week, unaware of the dangers.

One in three active Australian adults drink sports intra-workout drinks, which contain a high level of teeth-eroding acid, at least once per week when exercising. While saliva is a powerful natural defence mechanism against erosion, if teeth are exposed to the acids in sports too often saliva doesn’t have enough time to repair the damage.

The ADA study, conducted with more than 1000 Australians, suggest that greater educational initiatives are needed to combat the high rate of tooth decay from sports drinks. “Over the last few decades, the oral health of Australians has started to deterioriate, and in particular we are seeing higher levels of dental disease than ever before,” said Dr Peter Alldritt, chair of the ADA’s Oral Health Committee.

In Australia, three in ten adults have untreated tooth decay and one in two children under the age of 12 have experienced untreated tooth decay in their permanent teeth. And alarmingly, one in five participants in the study admitted that they would not change their behaviour upon learning of the potential damage of sports drinks, which indicates a complacency in our collective attention to health issues.

How to combat sports drinks’ affect on dental health

In response to the research, which also indicates that on in three Australians don’t brush their teeth the recommended twice daily amount, the ADA suggests the following steps to help ensure greater dental health:

-Drink water where possible, which not only has no acid or sugar, but its fluoride protects teeth.
-Avoid sipping sports and intra-workout drinks for a long duration.
-Use a straw so teeth are less exposed to the sugar and acid in the drinks.
-Brush teeth twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste, but avoid brushing for 60 minutes after consuming sports drinks to allow enamel to harden.
-Chew a sugar-free gum to help stimulate saliva flow to help protect teeth.

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