Irish Dental Association highlights dangers of hidden sugars in ‘healthy lifestyle’ diet

The Irish Dental Association has warned consumers to be aware of the hidden sugars which they may be consuming as part of a new healthy lifestyle.

Many patients who are participating in sports are presenting with significant tooth decay and erosion in their teeth.

While most people engaging in sports or activities understand the importance of hydration and a healthy diet, many were not aware that a lot of the sports drinks and protein shakes which they consume have a very high sugar content.

People who are constantly taking little sips of sports drinks from a bottle are effectively bathing their teeth in sugar and giving their mouths no time to recover.

Consumers have to be clear about what they and their children are consuming. Sports drinks, protein shakes,energy drinks, energy bars and fruit juices can contain anything from five to a dozen teaspoons of sugar.

Protein/meal replacement bars can be very damaging due to the sticky nature of the honey or syrup which is often included. Dried fruit also has a very high concentration of sugar also.

Tooth decay is always caused by sugars such as sucrose, lactose, glucose, fructose.

A survey of athletes at the London Olympics in 2012 by a team from University College London which found that athletes as a group had worse dental health than other people of a similar age. Of the 302 athletes examined, from 25 sports, 55% had evidence of cavities, 45% had tooth erosion and 76% had gum disease. One in three said their oral health affected their quality of life and one in five said it affected training or athletic performance.

  • Avoid sports drinks on a regular basis.
  • If taking protein shakes or bars study the ingredients carefully and opt for those not containing sugar.
  • Plain water is the ultimate thirst quencher while milk has also been found to be a very effective post workout drink.

For endurance sports if sugary fluid replacement is necessary try to drink through a straw. Brushing twice a day, using a mouthwash and going for regular dental check-ups will ensure you have good oral health.