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Dietary supplements could damage teeth

  • Published
  • By Dr. (Capt.) Zachary Allmand
  • 88th Air Base Wing Dental Squadron
Health is an issue that affects all of us in one way or another. Exercise has many benefits that help to improve everything from our heart health to the way that we look and feel.

In this day and age, many people are turning to "dietary supplements" to give them the edge they are looking for to slim down. Companies market these products to make us think that, by using them, we are going lift more weight, run faster longer, or slim down the waist line. Some of these products, when used properly, can help us lead more healthy lifestyles. However, many people may not consider how these supplements affect their oral health.

Almost everyone has either had a cavity or had someone in his or her family who has had one. A cavity, or carious lesion, is a disease process that is caused by bacteria that stick to our teeth. When we consume sugary foods or beverages, bacteria use that sugar as a fuel and produce acid as a waste by-product. The acid they produce eats away at our teeth causing cavities.

Most people have heard the same speech from their dentist, "Don't eat too many sticky sweets, and don't drink too much sugary soda or you are going to get cavities." Everyone knows that if you have a "sweet tooth" you are probably going to be making frequent trips to the dentist. Few people realize that some of those fitness drinks and foods can land you in the same situation.

Many sports drinks contain almost as much sugar as some sodas. They are just as bad for your teeth, and some people are drinking them in greater quantities because they think they are good for them. Many of the fitness bars also contain lots of sugar, and they are chewy and gooey. This allows the sugar that is in the bars to stick to your teeth, giving those bacteria a constant food source.

These fitness supplements can be dangerous because most people don't realize the harm these products can do to their teeth, so while they are getting in shape, and building their muscles, they are destroying their teeth.

There are ways to avoid the cavities while still getting the benefits from these drinks and snack bars. Look for drinks that are low in sugar. Many companies produce fitness drinks that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose (Splenda). This sweetener is derived from sugar, so it tastes like sugar, but the bacteria in the mouth can't use it as a fuel, so they don't make the acid that destroys your teeth. You can still drink the more sugary drinks, but if you do, drink them in a couple of minutes instead of sipping on them for a couple of hours. You will do less harm to your teeth if the sugar is only in contact with them for a few minutes.

Look for low crab energy bars. Many of the carbohydrates that are in them come from the sugar used to make the bars. If it is a low carb bar, chances are that means it is low in sugar. Try to find a snack that is less sticky. This helps your tongue and saliva to clear the sugar from your mouth quicker.

Finally, do your teeth a favor. Look at the ingredients before you buy your next pre-workout snack. Pick something low in sugar, or if you choose something that has sugar in it, consume it quickly so the sugar isn't sitting on your teeth for extended periods of time. Subsequently, brush and floss your teeth to remove the bacteria that cause disease and to remove retentive food particles. It will help you have a great-looking smile to go with the brand-new healthier you.