I recently discussed beverage habits with a young woman who was in to have her teeth cleaned. We found several new cavities. How they looked and where I found them indicated to me that she has some dietary sugar problems. So I launched into my mind reader act.
“So, what kind of pop do you like to drink?”
She looked slightly impressed, but she seemed ready for my question.
“Well, I don’t drink much pop. I do drink a lot of Gatorade, though.”
Boom! There it was. Gatorade was her beverage of choice. I actually hear this a lot. Gatorade can’t be bad for your teeth! Gatorade is for athletes. Athletes are healthy. Plus, Gatorade isn’t fizzy, so there’s less acid, right? No problem.
Gatorade contains 14g of sugar per serving. Which is about half the amount of sugar in my traditional nemesis, Mountain Dew. However, it’s pH is listed between 2.2 and 3.1. Which is similar if not more acidic than Mountain Dew. So Gatorade has less sugar than pop, but is similarly acidic, even though it’s not fizzy.
I talked a bit longer to this patient. I told her that unless she wanted to see lots of me that she was going to need another plan.
She said, “O.K., I’ll just drink water.”
I asked, “do you like water?”
“So why do you drink Gatorade?”
“Well, it tastes better.”
“Here’s the deal. You can drink as much Gatorade as you want, but you have to limit it to 2 minutes a day.”
She looked at me, completely puzzled.
“I know,” I said. “It sounds silly. Having some sugars or acids in the diet is O.K., but you have to limit the amount of time your teeth are exposed to it. If you want to drink a bottle of Gatorade, I’ve got no problem with it. But you have to drink it in 2 minutes from start to finish. You need to set a timer.”
Kelly, my hygienist, jumped in and mentioned, “Gatorade ‘G2’ is sugar free, too. I don’t know about the acid content, but it doesn’t have any sugar.”
“So now you have a plan,” I said. “You get 2 minutes to have any sugary drinks you want. Then you need to chew some sugarless gum. For the rest of the day, you’ll look for sugar free options.”
“I think I can do that,” she said.
So there you have it. If you can change your diet in such a way, you can significantly reduce your risk for developing cavities. Do you need a 2 minute warning?
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