PITTSBURGH (KDKA) –- All those sports drinks kids are downing to keep themselves hydrated are ruining their teeth. Dentists are seeing serious tooth and mouth problems at much younger ages.
Patient Jon Salisbury played sports for years.
"I played soccer in high school for four years, I ran track for four years," he said. "I played soccer in college for three years."
The last injury he thought he'd suffer was one to his teeth.
"I'm 25," he said. "I've had two root canals already."
Root canals at such a young age? From playing sports? Well, not from the sports per se, but it's what young athletes are drinking while playing sports that is doing the damage.
"On any given day, I'd drink at least half a gallon of Gatorade to prepare for it, if not more," Salisbury said. "That didn't include if I had an energy drink."
"Most kids don't realize that they're doing the damage to their teeth until it's a little bit too late," Dr. Katelyn Woods, a pediatric dentist at Children's Hospital, said.
The sugar in these sports drinks becomes food for the bacteria in your mouth, and the waste generated is an acid that ruins teeth.
"We'll see lesions, especially affecting the front teeth, but cavities all in the back, a lot of erosion and damage to the front and back of the teeth," Woods said. "Sometimes it's very extensive, where they need nerve treatment and even extractions."
"It's almost an epidemic because we're seeing young people emulate athletes, and it's being supplied now in high schools and colleges and even at the youth levels, where kids are drinking Gatorade. There's a lot of marketing that goes into it."
So, if kids shouldn't be drinking these sports drinks, what should they drink?
"We always say water is the best. It really does a great job at hydrating," Woods said. "Most kids with their activities aren't going to need the electrolytes in the sports beverages."
Jon is now an officer in the International Guard, but he almost didn't qualify because of his dental issues. He says if he had to do it all over again, he'd cut down on those sugary drinks.
"It had all these adverse effects that I never foresaw."
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