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The Role of Sports Drinks in Demineralization

Demineralization occurs when mineral ions are compromised and removed from dental enamel. The process progresses due to low pH in the saliva and when the oral environment is deprived of minerals in relation to the tooth’s overall mineral content. The hydroxyapatite latticework is subsequently softened by acids that are produced by the cellular action of plaque bacteria in the presence of dietary carbohydrates and sugars. Demineralization of dental enamel is reversible, provided that the acidogenic properties of plaque biofilm are neutralized. The buffering capability of saliva plays a critical role in helping to restore a neutral pH in the oral cavity and at the tooth surface. Remineralization of dental enamel occurs when dietary carbohydrates are removed and the pH of the plaque biofilm is raised to approximately 7.0. When the pH returns to a neutral point, the demineralization process is halted and the remineralization process begins to occur at the tooth surface. The process enables minerals to be deposited back into the areas of compromised enamel crystallites.

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Athletes are prone to dehydration and subsequently a diminished salivary flow.

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The bacteria in biofilm are less potent without the buffering effect that saliva provides, and they are unable to produce an acidic environment.

close up of mouth and tongue arenacreative / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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The United States sports drinks market alone is estimated to be worth more than how much annually?

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Sports and energy drinks have a low pH and contain sugars, creating a susceptible environment in the oral cavity for enamel demineralization.

woman on treadmill with sports drink Emir Memedovski / E+
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Citric acid is frequently included in sports and energy drinks and has been found to be highly erosive, because its demineralizing effect on the enamel continues even after the pH has been neutralized.

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Due to their popularity, oral health professionals should discuss sports and energy drink consumption during their comprehensive evaluation and patient education practices.

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Which of the following may help remineralize the susceptible areas in dental enamel?

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The Role of Sports Drinks in Demineralization
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This information is from the article “Reducing Demineralization Risk” by Lynn Marsh, RDH, EdD. To read the article, click here.

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