The culmination of months of training, dedication and plain old hard work. Race season is upon us. We may be physically prepared to take on the challenges we set ourselves, but what impact is our diet and all the energy drinks consumed in training and on race day having on our teeth?

Eroded_teeth

Tooth erosion is caused by acidic foods and drinks “dissolving” away the surface of the tooth. It is becoming more common, especially due to greater consumption of fizzy drinks – including supposed “diet” drinks. Given more chance, teeth will repair themselves, using minerals from saliva. But if acid is in the mouth too often teeth cannot repair themselves and the hard surface (enamel) becomes thinner – this is called “erosion”.

Straws

Our mouths have a pH 7 (neutral), this will drop, becoming more acidic after eating or drinking (“acid attack”). This can take up to an hour to recover again. The oral cavity can cope with up to 4 “acid attacks” a day. The main cause of erosion is too frequent consumption of certain kinds of food and drinks. In the case of our athletes, regularly sipping these drinks during training or on race day, often over a number of hours maintains a lower ph putting them at risk of erosion. Eroded teeth have a weakened structure, becoming more brittle, suffer from increased sensitivity to hot and cold food and are also more likely to suffer decay. All fizzy drinks (including “diet” brands and fizzy mineral water), all sports drinks, all squashes, and all fruit juices are acidic to varying degrees. Pickles and citrus fruits are examples of acidic food types as well as balsamic, vinaigrettes and lemon salad dressings.

Some medications are acidic and contribute towards erosion as well as medical conditions like acid reflux, gastrointestinal problems, excessive alcohol consumption and eating disorders e.g. Bulimia.

 pH Levels of Popular Soft Drinks, Juices and Fruit

Soft Drinks

Schweppes Indian Tonic 2.5
Coca Cola 2.5
Fanta Orange 2.9
Sprite Lite 3.0
7up 3.0
Red Bull 3.4 Gatorade 3.1

Juice

Orange Juice 3.5-4.0
Apple Juice 3.5
Tomato Juice 4.2
Ribena 3.1

Fresh Fruit

Kiwi fruit 3.5
Grapefruit 3.0
Granny Smith Apples 3.2
Orange 3.4
Blue grapes 3.7
Green Grapes 3.2
Apricot 3.9-4.8

Mineral Water

Aqua Mineral 5.1
Aqua Mineral with lemon and
lime 5.0