GURNEE, ILLINOIS -The pediatric dentists at Affiliated Dental Specialists are saying that children and adolescents are harming their oral health when they consume sports and energy drinks.
“Our job is to keep our patients’ mouths healthy,” says Dr. Cameron Wagner, a kids’ dentist and oral health expert. “That means educating them about dietary recommendations and other ways to protect their teeth, gums and mouth.”
The latest guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend consumers skip sugary beverages and choose water instead. A June news release from the American Academy of Pediatrics takes those recommendations and tailors them to their target demographic, warning parents and caregivers that not only are sports and energy drinks unnecessary, they are very detrimental to children.
Sports drinks are designed to replace electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium and chloride, which are lost via sweat during prolonged, vigorous exercise. Energy drinks artificially boost energy using a combination of stimulants like caffeine and guarana, sugars, vitamins and herbs.
Besides these acidic, sugary beverages contributing to major health problems such as obesity, they can also lead to dental erosion and caries, particularly during exercise when the saliva flow is likely to be decreased.
“Just like soda and juice, energy and sports drinks offer little nutritive value and take a big toll on teeth,” says Dr. James Orbon, who works at the dental group practice of pediatric dentists and Gurnee braces providers.
Twelve ounces of the popular sports drink Gatorade Thirst Quencher has 21 grams of sugar, which is approximately seven teaspoons of sugar. Sixteen ounces of Monster, a common energy drink, contains 160 milligrams of caffeine and 54 grams of sugar. That’s 13.5 teaspoons of sugar and the caffeine equivalent of four and a half cans of Coca-Cola.
“Sports drinks are not necessary in most cases, and energy drinks are never appropriate for children and adolescents,” says Dr. David Maddox, a dental care expert at his practice where Invisalign and other orthodontics treatment is offered.
We recommend parents and children learn to read and understand the nutrition content and ingredient labels of any beverage they consume, but they should know that drinking water is the best and safest way to stay hydrated and protect oral health.
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