We all know that sodas are bad for our teeth, but did you know that sports drinks, like Gatorade, actually erode teeth faster than Coke? Pretty shocking, isn’t it? Well, according to a University of Iowa School of Dentistry study presented at the American Association for Dental Research in Orlando, Florida in 2006, Gatorade and other sports drinks aren’t any better for your teeth than Coca-Cola.
“I don’t think everybody realizes how erosive these things (sports drinks) are, especially Gatorade and Red Bull,” said researcher Leslie A. Ehlen, a student at the University of Iowa School of Dentistry.
Ehlen covered extracted teeth with nail polish, leaving two bar patches on the enamel and the root. The teeth were then dunked into tubes filled with Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Gatorade, Red Bull, and apple juice for a period of 25 hours.
The Results: All of the beverages eroded the bare spots on the teeth, but to varying degrees. Gatorade was significantly more corrosive than the other beverages on both the enamel and the root. Red Bull came in second and Coke third.
“People need to be aware that all sorts of beverages can be causing dental erosion,” said Ehlen.
“It comes down to the more sugar in the drink, the more risk of [cavities] to the person drinking it,” added Brian Burt, PhD.
However, there are two sides to every story.
- A 2005 study conducted by Craig Horswill, PhD at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute found that Gatorade decreased dehydration and increased saliva flow, which actually reduced cavity formation.
- A 2002 Ohio State University study of 304 athletes found no link between sports-drink use and dental erosion. “Dental erosion among users of sports drinks in the Ohio State study was the same as it was in nonusers,” Horswill tells WebMD. “And they averaged 10 years of sports drink use.” The study was sponsored by Quaker Oats, which makes Gatorade.
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Gatorade Tough on Teeth? WebMD