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Dentists: reach for water instead of sports drinks this summer

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Nadia Ramlagan

(North Carolina News Service) Reach for water instead of sports drinks to stay hydrated, dentists are urging residents this summer.

Studies have ranked sugary and highly acidic sports and energy drinks as among the worst for oral health.

Dr. Mary Gaddis, a dentist in Durham, North Carolina, said it is a common misconception sports drinks are healthy. She explained people often sip on these types of beverages over the course of several hours while doing outdoor sports or lounging at the beach, which can set the stage for cavities.

"You're constantly coating your teeth with acid and sugar," Gaddis stressed.

She added if you need an extra flavor boost beyond water, bananas and nuts are a good source of carbohydrates and potassium for energy. She pointed out coconut water can provide essential minerals such as sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Gaddis also noted oral-hygiene habits tend to fall off the wagon during the summer among kids, and combined with the chugging of sports drinks, can lead to enamel erosion, discoloration, tooth decay and staining.

"During the summer, they're off of their routines," Gaddis observed. "Maybe they're not getting up and brushing in the morning like they normally would. They're staying up later, so they're not brushing at night before they go to bed."

She emphasized it is important to see your dentist regularly for checkups, even if you are not experiencing symptoms.

"And you definitely need a dentist to check to see what's happening," Gaddis advised. "Because most of the time, you're not going to have any sensitivity. You're not going to have any pain or discomfort from a normal cavity. So, if you're having any pain or discomfort, usually it's beyond the level of just a regular cavity. "

In addition to teeth, there is also evidence sports drinks can impact overall health. Research has shown frequent consumption of sports drinks can lead to obesity among children and young adults.