5 Reasons Why Sports Drinks are Bad for Kids

5 Reasons Why Sports Drinks are Bad for Kids

Sports drinks and energy drinks are two of the most popular beverages for teenagers and young adults. In Canada, it is estimated that 74% of young people between the ages of 12-24 have consumed sports drinks. Young children love the sweet taste and the bright, fun colours because these beverages are targeted at children. While these drinks are loaded with electrolytes that help hydrate you while playing sports and exercising, the additional ingredients in sports drinks can do more harm than good. Here are five reasons why sports drinks are bad for kids:

1. They cause tooth decay

Unfortunately, many children and young adults who consume sports drinks on a regular basis have very little understanding of the tooth decay they are causing. Sports drinks are loaded with sugars and have a high acidity level. If the acidity is too high, it increases the likelihood of sugar damaging your teeth, causing irreversible decay. As the acidity makes your teeth vulnerable, the sugar chips away at the enamel, contributing to cavities and other damage.  

2. They cause sensitive teeth

Even with the best toothpaste and brushing routine, there is very little that can be done to restore the enamel of your teeth. Unfortunately, any damage incurred by the acidic and sugar-filled beverages is likely irreversible. This can lead to exposed roots and hypersensitive teeth. As the enamel continues to decay, your child’s teeth may become sore and sensitive to hot and cold, making it difficult to eat consistently. Beyond the tooth damage, this can also impact their overall health, as they cannot consume a balanced diet without suffering from pain. 

3. They’re marketed to children

Most of these sports drinks are marketed towards children and young athletes. These sugar-packed drinks come in lots of bright, neon colours and fun, fruity flavours, all of which make the drinks fun for kids. Children aren’t worried about reading labels, checking for ingredients, and making sure they are conscious of what they consume. Instead, they focus on bottle-marketing that suggests a positive impact on their performance during sports and physical activity. Even some parents encourage this, as they see sports drinks as a better alternative to energy drinks and soda. In reality, the only way to ensure your child is properly hydrated and their teeth are safe and protected is to drink water.

4. Sugar levels vary

While virtually all sports drinks are loaded with sugar or other artificial sweeteners — which can be even more destructive — the exact amount of sugar will vary from flavour to flavour and brand to brand. This makes it difficult to keep track of how much sugar your child is actually consuming. Be sure to do your research. If your child is going to consume sports drinks, opt for all-natural alternatives that have reduced amounts of sugars and sweeteners and focus on hydration instead. 

5. Acidity levels vary

Similarly to sugar levels, acidity levels can also vary wildly from one brand to another. Energy drinks are especially heinous in this regard, as their acidity levels are often more than double that of standard sports drinks. With increased acidity comes more enamel decay, which is worsened by sugars. This is why it is crucial that you pay attention to the ingredients in your kid’s sports drinks or even switch to water entirely.

What can parents do?

For many kids, sports drinks are a part of their everyday lives. Many kids go right for their sports drink after hockey practice or on their way home from school, and this habit is causing significant damage to their teeth. Here are a few tips parents can try to keep their children’s teeth safe:

1. Minimize sports drink intake

The obvious and most effective solution is to cut out sports drinks entirely. Because these drinks can do so much damage to a child’s teeth, the best solution is to switch to water immediately. Water provides much of the same hydrating effects, and electrolytes can be restored without resorting to consuming mass amounts of sugar and acid. 

2. Rinse with water and chew sugarless gum 

After your child consumes a sports beverage, try encouraging him or her to rinse their mouth with water or chew sugarless gum. These tactics will help flush away the acidity, preserving your teeth before they become damaged further. As the acidity can cause enamel decay for hours after consuming a sports drink, this can help minimize the long-term damage. 

3. Read the labels

As a parent, it is your responsibility to read and understand the ingredients that go into your children’s food and drinks. Many sports drinks are loaded with sugars and sweeteners to make them more enticing — and even addictive. However, there are more natural, tooth-friendly options on the market. Do your research and find the best brands and flavours with minimal sugars and acids; your child will thank you when they grow up and still have healthy, pearly teeth. 

4. Encourage healthy oral hygiene

Another essential tip — but one that is ignored all too often — is to simply talk to your kids about dental hygiene and oral health practices. From healthy hygiene routines that include brushing, flossing, and mouthwash to being conscious of what they consume, these life lessons will pay huge dividends in the future. Not only will they be healthier and happier with their smile, but healthy dental routines can save you thousands of dollars in dental work in the future. 

5. Schedule regular cleanings

For those who do consume sports drinks on a regular basis, regular dental cleanings are crucial. Not only can a professional dentist scrape away plaque and help prevent cavities and gum disease, but they can also monitor the progress of your child’s teeth. If the dentist notices that your child’s teeth are decaying at an alarming rate, sports drinks may be the cause.

To learn more about the dangers of sports drinks, call Smile Town at 866-378-0026 or visit our website here