Dental Tips |3 min read

What Do Sugary Drinks Do to Your Teeth?

Kids kicking a soccer ball with text "Sport drinks, do you know what's in them?"

With fall in full swing, it means sports are well underway! Whether your little surfers play football, baseball, soccer, or hit the pool for swim team, there’s no doubt that weekends are now full of sports, sports, sports.

And with these sports activities, how many of us are grabbing bottles of sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade for our kids or even ourselves?

As a parent, you may have wondered “What do sugary drinks do to your teeth?” – especially to your children’s teeth!

As your pediatric dentists in Richland and Sumner, WA, we want to share some quick facts and tips about sugary sports drinks.

What are the main ingredients in sports drinks?

Sports drinks contain water, sucrose (table sugar), dextrose (more sugar), salt, monopotassium phosphate (soluble potassium), salt (electrolytes), sodium citrate, and citric acid.

With a multitude of delicious flavors to choose from, it’s no wonder so many of us choose these options for ourselves and our kids.

Gatorade is probably the most popular and easily recognized brand of sports drink. Developed in the 1960s at the University of Florida, it was created by a team of researchers to replenish carbohydrates that athletes burned during physical exertion. It was also meant to replace the water and electrolytes these athletes burned.

This ability to recover quickly allows athletes to maintain performance and sustain endurance. But when we drink them without physical exertion, we are ingesting empty calories and loads of sugar.

Fun fact: Gatorade is named after the University of Florida’s mascot, the Gators.

How do sugary drinks affect your teeth?

Sugary drinks contain large amounts of sugar, which contribute to obesity, tooth decay, and hyperactivity. Too much sugar sitting on our teeth fuels cavities and can lead to exposure of the inner layers of our teeth that may become sensitive and painful.

These sweetened beverages also can contain high levels of acid that can cause tooth erosion. These acid attacks on our teeth last for about 20 minutes each. With every sip you take of these sugary drinks, you renew the acid attack on your teeth and the damage it does to your teeth.

Drinking water is an easy way to rinse this sugar off your teeth. However, if you are gulping down a sports drink, chances are you aren’t also drinking water.

If your little surfers are drinking these sports drinks when they are not active, they have less need for replenishing carbs, calories, and electrolytes. So, they can become as dangerous to our teeth as drinking a soft drink.

Is water good for your teeth?

The best way to hydrate your little surfer – whether they are on the gridiron, the mound, or just resting at home – is to give them water.

Water will keep teeth clean of sugar and acid, and also give our bodies everything they need for proper hydration.

If your kids do drink sports drinks, look for ones that have less sugar. Monitor when and how often they drink them, so they don’t overdo it. The amount of sugar in a 12-oz sports drink is comparable to a 12-oz soda.

Be sure your kiddos are also brushing and flossing to keep sugars and acids off their teeth.

Have a question?

If you have any questions about how to care for your child’s teeth, levels of recommended sugar, or other dentistry-related questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our board-certified pediatric dentists!

We have two convenient locations in Sumner and Richland, WA.


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