High Performance Athletes = High Performance Caries

Just the other day at Kerhoulas Dental, our hygiene department saw a 14-year old patient for his recall exam. We have been seeing him since he was five years old. He is one of those patients, who up until now, has been caries free and has had impeccable oral hygiene. He hadn’t been seen for a year due to the fact that he has been busy with his competitive hockey and he had missed his last six-month recall exam. Upon examining his cavity detecting x-rays, we just about had a heart attack! He had seven cavities present, and all required to be repaired with white fillings. The discussion with the child and his shocked mother then turned to “what have you been doing differently over the last year?” Our hygienist found out that all he has been drinking, on and off the ice, has been energy sports drinks. His mother has been buying them by the case because they were under the impression that they will make him a better athlete and keep him hydrated while playing hockey.

Energy sports drinks are marketed to young athletes to enhance their performance on the field, court or ice, to give the athlete that added advantage. In fact, what they are doing is exposing children to extraordinarily high levels of sugar.

In August of this year, the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) issued a warning about the harmful effects of sports drinks. The ODA recommends that athletes hydrate themselves during sporting events with plain water. This will provide the hydration without the high levels of sugar that sports drinks carry along with them.

We have our children in sports to encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle. Let’s make sure that happens by discouraging them from drinking high sugar content sports drinks while performing the sports they love.