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Some sugary holiday treats are safer on teeth than sports drinks

Sasha Nelson
The holidays offer an abundance of sweet treats.
Happy, smiling cute little girl eating cristmas candy cane.

— This time of year, it’s not only jolly men in red, fur-trimmed suits who are nibbling on cakes, cookies and candy canes. Tempting sweet holiday treats are on offer just about everywhere.

Area dentists offer some surprising advice about the treats most likely to cause cavities, and sports drinks rank highly on their Grinch list.

Dr. Hank Salyer’s practice, “A Kidz Dentist,” has offices in Craig and Steamboat Springs. He said kids get cavities due to bacteria feeding on sugar. The more time these bacteria have to feed, the higher the risk of cavities.

“Sticky stuff“ is worse than less sticky sugars. For example, “fruit roll-ups are sticky stuff, and even if they have juice … they can be worse for your teeth than an apple. For that same reason, chocolate is better than Starbursts,” Salyers said.

And not all sugars are equal.

“Any form of sugar that is acidic is the worst, including soft drinks,” Salyer said. “Mountain Dew is the worst, and Gatorade, Powerade (sports drinks) have almost the same sugar and acidity as the Mountain Dew.”

Dr. Neil Ganz, of Rabbit Ears Dental, is looking into new research showing that athletes, especially endurance athletes, are more prone to tooth erosion and cavities than other adults.

He shared a study published in June 2015 in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine Science in Sports.

“The effects of physical training and use of sports drinks and nutrition lower the pH of athletes’ saliva to levels where dental erosion can occur,” according to the study’s author, Dr. Cornelia Frese. “Longer training time is consistent with a higher intake of carbohydrate sports bars, gels and drinks, and this might cause a higher risk for caries.”

There are some simple ways to prevent cavities any time of year.

“What I try to emphasize is that, since you can’t eliminate sugar, find a way to strategically eat and drink in healthy ways,” Salyers said. “When you have M&M’s you get chocolate all over your teeth, regardless of quantity, but if you have them all at once, it has less impact than having a few throughout the day. It is the frequency and duration of the sugar exposure that determines whether you get a cavity or not.”

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.


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