The Department of Health and Social Care is encouraging the public to consider their oral health when participating in exercise. With more people increasing their level of exercise and training to compete in sporting events over the summer, Nigel Armstrong, Lead Clinician for the Salaried Dental Service, suggests thinking before reaching for the sports drinks, as they are often consumed inappropriately and can seriously affect dental health.
Nigel Armstrong, himself a veteran Manx Mountain Marathon winner, has a keen interest on the effects of sports nutrition on teeth.
He said: “The combination of high levels of sugars, acid and additives in sports drinks can cause damage to tooth enamel leading to decay. They also offer little performance benefit over plain water if someone is constantly exercising for less than 90 minutes. The hydrating effects of simply sipping water according to thirst should not be ignored.
“The body stores sufficient carbohydrate to run about 18 miles, and workout in a gym or walk quickly for approximately 3 hours. Sports drinks are often used incorrectly by many unsuspecting people, leading to increases in tooth decay and poor oral health.”
A recent report investigating the oral health of Olympic athletes at the London 2012 games showed that their oral health was poor with high levels of tooth decay, erosion and other dental diseases. Poor oral health can affect wellbeing through pain and interference with eating, drinking and sleep. For the athletes this impacted their training and performance. This is likely to also be reflected in other athletes, such as those soon to be competing at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
Nigel added: “Athletes competing in endurance events such as our contingent at the Commonwealth Games or people recovering from a strenuous training session do require supplementary carbohydrate and protein. In these circumstances, they should take particular care in sipping water after eating or drinking products containing these nutrients. Best practice is to follow eating and drinking with a cleaning regime such as tooth brushing or using dental mouth rinse kept with their sporting kit.”
Carolyn Lewis, Clinical Director for Salaried Dental Services said: “It is essential that we raise awareness about the importance of good oral health on overall wellbeing. We aim to encourage people to have regular dental check-ups, to maintain a good oral health routine and to limit their sugar intake – for example by not using these sports drinks.”