With the trend towards healthier lifestyles, running and other sports, the consumption of sports drinks, energy bars and gels has also risen.
These foods and drinks are the “culprits” behind the fact that elite athletes had poor oral health despite efforts to care for their teeth. Most of them practice brushing and flossing more regularly than the general public, however, researchers from University College London also found that 87% of athletes regularly drank sports drinks, 59% ate energy bars and 70% used energy gels, all of which are known to damage teeth.
Therefore, we would like to share some considerations you may want to take when consuming these:
The important thing to remember with sports drinks is, like all other foodstuffs, to take them in moderation. The frequency of drinking and the time that teeth are exposed to the acidic drinks will affect the severity of erosion.
Some recommendations are:
- Drink in moderation, i.e., only if you need to and not on a daily/regular basis
- If possible, plain water is still the best thirst quencher without risk of acid erosion to teeth
- Rinse the mouth with plain water after drinking the sports drinks
Energy bars and Gels
Energy bars and gels are meant to be a last minute energy supply during long drawn endurance type sports events that typically last more than a few hours. For shorter events, there is simply insufficient time for the body to digest, absorb and utilize them as energy source. Energy bars and gels are not meant to be regular meal substitutes on an everyday basis.
There are many brands of energy bars or gels. In general, energy bars and gels contain high levels of simple sugars, which are easily absorbed and utilized as an energy source. Power gels tend to be simpler in terms of nutrient formulation. The gel form is meant to be swallowed faster. Many energy bars contain significant levels of fat and nuts which take longer to be digested and absorbed as an energy source. Energy bars are meant to be well chewed up before they are swallowed. The key difference is the duration that the contents stay in the oral cavity. The shorter that these stay in the oral cavity, less harmful to the teeth they may be.