After you've had a tough workout, it's important to rehydrate. For a large - and growing, according to Forbes - segment of the population, this means guzzling down a sports drink. With bright colors and slick marketing schemes centered around popular athletes, sports drinks have become a go-to beverage for those looking to revitalize after exercise.
Unfortunately for these people, those hydration efforts could be misguided. Not only are sports drinks not necessarily the best way to replenish fluids, the high levels of acids and sugar also have a negative impact on oral health.
While people think that having a sports drink is a healthier option than a soda, this is hardly the case. According to Dr Peter Alldritt, chair of the Australian Dental Association, these beverages can have six to eight tablespoons of sugar per bottle, roughly in line with what you'd expect to find in a soft drink. Despite these figures, many continue purchasing sports drinks, unaware of the risks that they can pose.
All of that sugar can cause teeth to decay, creating damage that is irreversible. However, sucrose is not the only culprit here - even "sugar-free" sports drinks can negatively impact oral health, as they contain a number of acids that can break down hard tissues. Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Center, explained to ABC News that acidity is a real problem.
"Bacteria convert sugar to acid, and it's the acid bath that damages enamel"
"Bacteria convert sugar to acid, and it's the acid bath that damages enamel, not the sugar directly," said Dr. Katz. "So by incorporating a high acid load in a drink, we are just cutting out the middleman on the way to tooth decay."
What exacerbates the issue is that it is easy to overindulge when it comes to sports drinks - perhaps even easier than soft drinks. They are loaded with sodium, which can leave you thirsty, while the sugar makes them easy to drink. This combination can readily lead to overindulgence.
Because they are often sold in health clubs and associated with athletes, it's easy to make the mistake of thinking that sports drinks are the best way to hydrate. Don't fall into this trap - instead of reaching for something bright and filled with acids, drink water before, during and after your workouts.