Sports drinks put teeth at risk, dentist says

Dr. Shelley Olson explains why you may want to think twice before grabbing your sports drink of choice.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Some of us dread going to the dentist. Maybe we had a bad one growing up, or we just don’t like having someone poke around in our mouths.

It’s not always the most fun trip, but going to the dentist makes a big difference in our health. You could have a whole bunch of problems going untreated, which may end up becoming serious.

Dr. Shelley Olson from the NC Dental Society joined 2 Wants to Know to debunk common myths and share ways to stay healthy.

Right now, Greensboro and the Triad are experiencing a major heat wave. Some doctors recommend people gulp down a sports drinks because it helps replace electrolytes. While that’s true, it could end up harming your teeth.

Sports drinks are really acidic. That means you’re at higher risk for enamel erosion, discoloration and tooth decay. Dr. Olson said use water as your primary hydration source.

If you’re looking to replace those lost carbohydrates and electrolytes, Dr. Olson said look for fruit and nuts. They work as an effective substitute to sports drinks. You can also use coconut water.

Dr. Olson said if you do choose to have a sports drink, you should do so in moderation. She said you should also drink water with it. The water washes away the acid and sugar from the sports drink.

Myth #1: Dentists only check for cavities and other tooth problems.         

Fact #1: Dentists will check for tooth decay, but they do much more than that. They examine cheeks, tongues and the rest of your mouth. A dentist will screen for oral cancer, gum disease and other potential health conditions.       

Myth #2: People shouldn’t go to the dentist unless they think they have a problem.   

Fact #2: Dr. Olson said you should be proactive with your oral hygiene. Checkups are a crucial part of that. Tooth decay gets worse if left untreated. Dr. Olson said you should see your dentist every 6-12 months to keep your teeth and gums healthy.    

Myth #3: Brushing your teeth harder cleans them better.           

Fact #3: Dr. Olson said brushing your teeth too hard can actually damage your enamel. She said you should brush slowly and in a circular motion with a manual toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes do the work for you.

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