Originally developed to help athletes rehydrate quickly and efficiently, sports drinks have become a popular beverage choice for North Americans regardless of their activity level.
Many people may make the mistake of believing that sports drinks are a health alternative to sugar sodas or juice because they are consumed by athletes. Yet, the sugary and acidic contents of sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade are significantly higher than one would expect; and as such, these drinks are associated with a variety of health consequences including tooth damage. Still, before we discuss the recent research linking sports drinks to tooth damage, let us first review the causes and symptoms of tooth decay.Tooth decay or the formation of cavities affects almost everybody in today's society. Common in children and young adults, tooth decay is especially serious in our formative years; yet, tooth decay continues to pose serious risks to our oral health even into adult hood. While tooth decay is the most common cause of tooth loss for young people, problems are almost completely preventable with good oral hygiene and a healthy diet.Tooth damage as the result of decay begins when bacteria in the mouth and in the plaque on teeth begin to produce acids. Plaque is a yellowish paste-like substance that builds up on teeth when oral hygiene is poor. Bacteria that lives in the plaque converts foods, especially sugars and starches into acids which subsequently break down teeth leading to decay and an increased risk of damage. As the acids in plaque dissolve the enamel of the teeth, cavities form and tooth decay becomes visibly evident.In the early stages, damage to teeth resulting from cavities and other forms of tooth decay is rarely associated with serious symptoms. However, in the long term, tooth damage resulting from tooth decay can lead to more serious oral health issues including tooth sensitivity, pain in the gums, gingivitis, bleeding gums, and even tooth loss in severe cases. The most common complication reported by patients occurs when tooth decay reaches the nerve, root, and other parts at the base of the tooth. The tooth can die and abscesses become more common.Tooth decay is diagnosed by a dentist when he or she can observe small cracks and holes in the teeth. As tooth damage progresses because of tooth decay, teeth soften making them more susceptible to damage. Indeed, the damage caused by tooth decay results in a vicious circle of more damage and ultimately more serious symptoms that can cause pain and discomfort. Treating tooth decay depends on the severity of the condition. Because teeth cannot regenerate, advanced tooth decay is often treated through dental surgeries that include crowns, implants, or dentures. Ultimately, the best treatment is prevention. Tooth damage can be completely avoided when individuals follow a strict and regular oral hygiene routine that involves regular brushing and flossing. It is recommended that you visit a dentist at least twice a year to ensure that your teeth are healthy and not full of cavities.