Q The enamel on my teeth has begun to wear away, and I reckon it could be due to the isotonic drink I take after training, as I avoid soft drinks in general. Is this likely?
A Isotonic drinks can damage the teeth in two ways. They are very acidic, which can cause dental erosion, and they contain sugar, which can lead to tooth decay. Every sip of an isotonic drink softens the enamel on your teeth for a short while. Your saliva neutralises this acidity and restores your mouth to its natural balance, but this can take up to an hour. If the acid attack happens too often, enamel can be brushed away, causing the dentine to become exposed, which may lead to pain and sensitivity. It also makes your teeth more susceptible to decay.
To avoid these problems, consume your sports drinks as quickly as possible, and perhaps even use a straw to avoid contact with the teeth. You should also avoid swishing them around the mouth as the more contact the drink has with your teeth, the more likely erosion is.
Don’t brush your teeth straight after consuming an isotonic drink in an attempt to minimise the effects. The enamel will already be weakened and brushing could actually help to wear it away. Give your mouth an hour for the enamel to harden and for the mineral content to be restored before brushing.
—Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation