Nothing says football season like a big tub of Gatorade being dumped on the winning coach at the end of a game. But for you and your kids it could be offsides and holding on your dental health. The trick is to keep the Gatorade on you and not in you.
Originally developed at The University of Florida in 1965 (and named after their sports teams – “The Gators”) Gatorade was intended for athletes such as football players who endured rigorous workouts in the hot sun. But somehow this potent drink has become a staple of our popular culture, and its combination of sugars, salt and electrolytes can be anything but healthy for all but the most strenuous exercisers. The fact is, for just about all of us, including children, water remains the healthiest drink either with meals or during and after exercise.
“For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best,” said Holly J. Benjamin, M.D., a member of the executive committee of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. “Sports drinks contain extra calories that children don’t need, and could contribute to obesity and tooth decay. It’s better for children to drink water during and after exercise, and to have the recommended intake of juice and low-fat milk with meals. Sports drinks are not recommended as beverages to have with meals.”
Even worse are “energy drinks” –which contain huge amounts of stimulants including caffeine, guarana and taurine. Some of these drinks contain more than 500 mg of caffeine – the equivalent of 14 cans of soda!! Combine that with huge amounts of tooth rotting and obesity causing sugar, and you’ve got a formula for health disaster. To make things worse, some schools actually have “pouring contracts” where they are paid to promote and serve unhealthy sodas and sports drinks.
Most sports drinks are as harmful for your teeth as soda. They are very acidic and are full of sugar, a perfect recipe for breaking down your teeth and spending more time with your dentist. There are times when a body is engaged in extreme physical activity all day long on a hot day when certain sports drinks actually will help keep a body hydrated, provide added fuel and electrolytes and help remove built up waste products from the muscles. Even most of these supplements recommend drinking water along with them. There shouldn’t be too much of a problem if one drinks water right after drinking some of the supplement. There are also great recovery drinks available, but, once again, if one is drinking these regularly it is important to follow them up with water immediately. Interestingly enough, chocolate milk is an awesome recovery drink!
Good old fashioned tap water, fortified with fluoride, not only remains the healthiest drink but it’s the least expensive as well.
So please enjoy football season, but remember not to let energy drinks and sports drinks blitz the dental and overall health of you and your children.

If your around Bryn Mawr and you’d like more info on healthy alternatives for optimal dental health be sure to stop in and see us.