sports drinks & teeth

Sports drinks and teeth

There is no doubt that properly formulated fluid and/or carbohydrate drinks can enhance sports performance (see PP212, Hydration Special). However, more recent research has discovered that regular sports drinks users may be putting their dental health at risk; in particular the protective tooth enamel has been found to erode 30 times faster with regular usage of sports drinks (which tend to be quite acidic) by comparison with plain water!

But help may be at hand in the form of the next generation of sports drinks. A recent study has examined the effects of adding an inhibitor of tooth enamel corrosion known as CPP-ACP to sports drinks. In this study, the effects of different sports drinks on tooth enamel during regular consumption patterns were simulated by immersing human enamel specimens in either:

  • a standard sports drink (Powerade);
  • Powerade plus added CPP-ACP at four different concentrations (0.063%, 0.09%, 0.125%, 0.25%);
  • purified water (as a control).

The different drinks were tested for acidity and the immersed enamel surfaces were then analysed. The researchers found that, while the specimens immersed in water showed no erosion, those immersed in standard Powerade became eroded, with lesions clearly visible.

However, adding CPP-ACP to the Powerade at progressively higher concentrations steadily reduced acidity. More importantly, CPP-ACP concentrations of 0.09% and above completely eliminated these enamel erosion lesions. And, furthermore, a panel of tasters were unable to tell the difference between standard Powerade and Powerade with added CPP-ACP at 0.125%.

Given that the compound CPP-ACP is otherwise inert – ie it has no biological effects – it looks a promising candidate for inclusion in the next generation of ‘tooth-friendly’ sports drinks. Watch this space!

Pediatr Dent 2005; 27(1): 61-7

Andrew Hamilton

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