With the Olympics upon us, we can expect an explosion of advertisements for products like sports drinks, promising to make us stronger, fitter and faster.
Perhaps even we at central London specialist dental practice 76 Harley Street could become athletes with new trainers or supplements or energy bars!
One product we are very likely to see promoted is the sports drink – and it is the regular consumption of these by children in the UK that is causing concern to the Oral Health Foundation.
Is the public aware of the dangers of sports drinks?
Research by Cardiff University School of Dentistry, published in the British Dental Journal, shows 68% of 12–14-year-olds regularly consume high sugar sports drinks unnecessarily.
In response to these findings, Dr Ben Atkins, a Trustee of the Oral Health Foundation, said: ‘This research is incredibly worrying, to have such a large amount of children choosing these drinks when they have no nutritional benefit whatsoever is a health ticking time bomb . . . Drinking sports drinks has become the social norm and this should most definitely not be the case.’
While public awareness of hidden sugars has been heightened by the recent sugar tax campaign, there is still too little knowledge among consumers on what is healthy.
What makes sports drinks bad for oral health?
The level of sugar in these drinks is the enemy of tooth enamel. As the hygienists at our specialist dental practice explain to our London patients, sugar is harmful because it reacts with plaque bacteria, forming an acid that attacks the teeth and breaks down the enamel, creating cavities.
While they are designed to aid sporting professionals’ athletic performance, they pose as hazards to their teeth.
Meanwhile, more than 33,000 children are admitted to hospital on an annual basis to have their decayed teeth removed under general anaesthetic. Public awareness of hidden – and not so hidden – sugars evidently has some way to go.