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Think Before You Drink

After a grueling, productive workout, many people reach for a sports drink to “rehydrate” and recover electrolytes. But you might want to think twice about what’s in that drink.

Soda has long held a bad reputation as a major cause of dietary tooth decay. The acidity and high sugar content of soft drinks wears away and erodes tooth structure. Now, there are so many alternatives to soft drinks that are marketed as healthy, all-natural juices. With these new beverages, you may think that you are safer from tooth decay, but these products can be equally as unhealthy (or worse!) for you.

For example, that Gatorade that you gulped after hitting the gym contains 56 grams of sugar, which is roughly equivalent to 5 Chips Ahoy! cookies. Popular antioxidant smoothie drinks, such as Naked juice or Bolthouse Farms, can have up to 29 grams of sugar, or about 1 serving (half a pint) of Ben&Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream. Plain, old orange juice has 26 grams of sugar, the same as 10 Hershey kiss candies!

While it would be difficult to cut all juices from our diet, there are a few key points that will help to keep your smile healthy:

Try sugar substitutes. There are many sugar substitutes, including Splenda (sucralose) and Equal (aspartame). These substitutes are metabolized differently from sugar (sucrose) and can’t be used by bacteria to create acids and cause decay. Beware of labels that read “No sugar added” or “Sugar Free”, which may contain natural sweeteners such as honey, molasses, or syrups which do contain sugar.

Sugary drinks should be consumed with a meal, or within 15 minutes. Anytime you eat or drink, the pH of your mouth naturally decreases to break down what you are consuming. Studies show that it takes 30 minutes for the mouth pH to neutralize again. Therefore, you should limit the time you are drinking a beverage. Sipping from To-Go cups throughout the day does not give your body the time neutralize the oral environment, leading to tooth decay.

Rinse with water. After drinking a sugary beverage, rinse your mouth thoroughly to remove residual sugars that can cause tooth breakdown. By physically removing these sugars, you are decreasing exposure time that allows bacteria to cause decay.

Use a Fluoride toothpaste and visit your dentist regularly. Fluoride helps to remineralize areas that are starting to break down from acids. Make it a point to brush twice a day, and floss daily. Maintaining good oral hygiene is the best defense against tooth decay and tooth loss. Regular check-ups and cleaning will help to catch small cavities before they become bigger problems.

And finally, put down that smoothie-soda-juice-energy drink and DRINK WATER. It is all-natural, non-caloric, and FREE!

Visit your favorite Valencia Dentist for more information!

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