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Dr Jelley (GDC 6280) talks about the effect energy drinks are having on teeth.

Last summer sports drinks became a hot topic when The Times newspaper wrote about their effects on athlete’s teeth, highlighting the seriousness of oral disease and its negative impact on training and performance. Research into 300 British athletes across a number of Olympic sports has led to calls to treat athletes as a high risk group that should be offered prescription-only treatments to prevent oral disease.


The chemistry behind decay

After eating, there is a 30 to 40-minute period, during which your teeth are under attack, until the saliva returns to neutral PH * and starts to eliminate the acid. This is when the dissolving of enamel stops and saliva remineralizes any dissolved enamel.

Robert Stephan (1943) explained the process of how decay starts to develop in your mouth. The Stephan Curve is a well known graph that shows how the intake of food and drink changes the PH level in the mouth to a level which is bad for teeth. Over time, the PH level starts to rise to a neutral level.

Stephan (1943) describes the period after eating as the time when the acid attacks or dissolves the teeth. It shows the importance of how frequently you eat, rather than the quantity of food consumed. Think about your daily habits, what do you think your Stephan graph would look like?

Many athletes are eating before, during and after training, which would explain why they often have bad teeth, as they are constantly exposing their teeth to acid. Some athletes also put glucose gel on their gums to help enhance performance, and this is another way in which they are challenging their teeth.

What impact does tooth decay have?

• Pain from the tooth
• Inability to eat a proper diet
• Abscess formation
• Facial swelling
• Hospital admission, therefore less time to train and compete
• Reduced performance

How do sports drinks affect my teeth?

• EROSION – Acid in these drinks wears away the tooth surface over time.
• DAMAGE TO THE ENAMEL – the outer surface of the tooth is damaged by acids, as acid removes the minerals and weakens the tooth.
• DECAY – bacteria use sugar to cause decay, and holes develop in teeth.

How can I minimise the damage caused by drinking sports drinks?

• DRINK WATER – sports drinks are not necessary for regular sports and exercise, water is much healthier.

• DO NOT brush your teeth straight after consuming sports drinks, as you will wear away your enamel which has been softened by the acids.

• REDUCE FREQUENCY – reduce the number of times throughout the day that you are exposing your teeth to excessive amounts of acid. Every time teeth are exposed to food and drink (no matter the quantity), it takes an hour for the saliva to neutralise the acids.

• DON’T SWISH – if you insist on drinking sports drinks, do not hold in or swish around your mouth.

• BRUSH and CLEAN INTERDENTALLY – by using fluoride toothpaste and cleaning in between teeth twice a day, you are reducing the number of bacteria on the tooth and gum surface.

• VISIT THE DENTIST REGULARLY – by going to see your dentist regularly, they are able to give you cleaning advice, as well as repair the damage which has been caused by the sports drinks, and prevent any further damage from developing. Dentists can apply varnishes and gels to protect the teeth, as well as prescribe you additional home products, such as high fluoride toothpastes.
Patients on the Patient Plan Direct receive 20% off all routine treatment.

If you would like any advice or information, please do not hesitate to give us a call or pop in for a chat.

About Dr Jelley (Jaye)

Leaving school at 16 with no formal qualifications, I left my home town of Peterborough and moved to Birmingham. Being a dental phobic myself, I landed a job as a trainee dental nurse. Two weeks in, the other dental nurse left, and this allowed me to get much more involved.

A year later, I received my National Certificate in Dental Nursing. This was a huge achievement for me and I got the bug for learning, so I went on to obtain my GCSEs and A-Levels, but I didn’t quite get the grades I needed. Five conditional offers to study dentistry motivated me to stay on and try again, but again I was short of what was required. I went on to do the hygiene course instead and eventually I was accepted on the dentistry course. After a further five years of studies, I finally qualified as a dentist in 2008.

After several years in dentistry, I made the decision to open my own practice, The Dentist@Tupsley, located in a small parade of shops in East Hereford, with plenty of free parking. I started with just one surgery, but nearly three years later, I am having a second surgery installed to meet the demand.

With lots of anxious patients, it was important to me that the exterior and reception were non-clinical. The state-of-the-art equipment at the practice includes intraoral cameras, an iTero intraoral scanner, as well as a completely paperless administration. We even offer Netflix for patients.

The Dentist @ Tupsley
133 Quarry Road, Hereford HR1 1SX
Tel: 01432 343 158

Andrea Slivkova
Editor, FitNet Magazine
I am the founder, owner and editor of FitNet, a free glossy B5 sized magazine dedicated to health and active lifestyle in Herefordshire and Monmouth.

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Founder and editor of FitNet.
Previously gymnastics coach, massage therapist and personal trainer with 20 years of experience. Former gymnast and dancer.

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