Sports supplement drinks and dental health in competitive swimmers and cyclists

Br Dent J. 1997 Apr 26;182(8):303-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.4809372.


Aim: To assess dental status and sports supplement uptake in swimmers and cyclists. To determine chemico-physical properties of the most popular sports drinks.

Design: Descriptive, prevalence study of tooth wear and caries experience. Questionnaire analysis of sports drinks usage.

Setting: Two public swimming pools in Liverpool and three cycle clubs in North West England.

Subjects and method: A convenience sample of swimmers and cyclists was examined for caries and tooth wear. A questionnaire ascertained which sports drinks were consumed and their pattern of consumption. pH and titratable acidity, concentrations of calcium, phosphate and fluoride, and viscosity were analysed. Salivary flow rate in response to these drinks and water was also determined.

Results: 25 swimmers and 20 cyclists participated. Caries experience and tooth wear into dentine (excluding incisally exposed dentine) was significantly more frequent among cyclists (P < 0.05). Cyclists had significantly more upper palatal wear (P < 0.001). Pattern of sport drink consumption between the two groups was significantly different (P < 0.001). pH range of the most popular sport drinks was 2.4-4.5. Salivary flow rate after a 1-minute rinse was significantly lower (P < 0.05) with one drink (0.47 ml/min) and water (0.41 ml/min) compared with the other drinks.

Conclusions: An association between caries or erosive tooth wear and sport drink consumption was not found. However, the erosive potential of sport drinks is real and must be borne in mind as an aetiological factor for erosion in young people.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Beverages / adverse effects*
  • Beverages / analysis
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Bicycling / statistics & numerical data
  • Dental Caries / etiology*
  • Dietary Sucrose / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Swimming / physiology*
  • Swimming / statistics & numerical data
  • Tooth Erosion / etiology*
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance


  • Dietary Sucrose