|From football players to hockey stars, wrestlers and boxers, mouth guards are worn in many sports to help prevent against head traumas, temporal mandibular joint problems (TMD) and damage to the oral cavity. Sports drinks help to rehydrate and build up lost electrolytes during those crucial games.|
With one point on the line, have you ever thought what the combination of wearing a mouth guard and consuming sports drinks is doing to your teeth?
Sports drinks contain high levels of sugar and here are a few examples; Powerade weighs in with just over 7 teaspoons of sugar, while Gatorade tops it off with a whopping 14 teaspoons and believe it or not Vitamin Waters contains just over 7 teaspoons of sugary friends. The bacteria in the mouth that forms a sticky white substance called plaque feed off sugary foods and drinks that are consumed on a daily basis and they produce an acid. Over a length of time these acids start to destroy and eat away the tooth enamel (hard bone-like structure protecting the teeth) that then cause tooth decay, also known as cavities. Now if we take into perspective that sugary sports drinks can do this to the teeth just by drinking, imagine what is happening when you wear a mouth guard and chug back half a Powerade or Gatorade. The sugary drink now has time to sit directly on your teeth inside your mouth guard as you jump the boards to rush to the net or fight for another round. Your teeth are being directly exposed to the sugar for a long period of time resulting in immediate risk for tooth decay.
The enamel on your teeth becomes softer with extended exposure to these sugar bugs which means that its purpose to protect your teeth, how a football helmet would your head is becoming less effective than it should be. Tooth enamel is important for everyday use of chewing, biting, grinding and crunching on those favorite foods.
Here are a few helpful tips to make sure your head, TMJ and mouth are protected wearing a mouth guard while still having the chance to replenish and refuel with sports drinks:
Alternate between sports drinks and water to allow the teeth to be rinsed of sugar bugs.
Take your mouth guard out while having a drink of Powerade or Gatorade and swish with some water quick before heading back into the game.
Drinking water instead of sugary drinks while wearing a mouth guard is your only solution to rehydrate and avoid the sugar involved with these drinks and tooth decay.
Mouth guards will help prevent concussions, trauma to the jaw or a handful of teeth so remember, always wear your mouth guard in contact sports. It doesn’t hurt to be thinking about the reduction of sugary sports drinks chilling in your mouth guard. Help prevent the risks of tooth decay while you’re about to score the winning touchdown. Good luck!
– Dr. Anthony Butchert