the Australian Dental Association
Written by the Australian Dental Association, Jun 16, 2022
Fact Checked

Sports drinks have been designed to help professional athletes recover from the stresses their intense athletic activities put them under.

If you play weekend or social sports, the best drink for you to stay hydrated is water. For this level of activity, sports drinks will provide you with little benefit. However, they will expose your teeth to added sugars and acid that can cause tooth decay and tooth erosion when drunk regularly. They can be particularly damaging to the teeth if you drink them when you are dehydrated.


One quick way to work out whether what you are drinking is beneficial to your dental and overall health is to be familiar with the nutritional label located on the side of the drink.
Sports drinks often contain added sugar and ingredients that cause the drink to have a low pH, making it acidic. Drinking these types of drinks regularly can cause damage to the teeth over time. Sugary drinks can cause tooth decay while acidic drinks can cause tooth erosion where the tooth structure is worn away.
In the list of ingredients, words such as sugar, glucose, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate and cane sugar may be found. These are all sources of added sugar.
Ingredients that can make the drink acidic include citric acid, sodium benzoate, and sodium citrate.

How do I find a healthy option?

Health Star Ratings are a quick and easy way to help you choose healthier packaged foods and drinks.

The Health Star Rating System is a food labelling system used in Australia and New Zealand. It started in 2014. Manufacturers of packaged foods and drinks may choose to put a star rating on the label of their product. The star ratings range from ½ to 5 stars. The rating is made using a calculator that looks at nutrients and ingredients in the food or drink. The higher the stars, the healthier the drink is compared similar products. The lower the star rating, the less healthy the drink is. 

Check out this guide for using the Health Star Rating.

Choose water

When playing sports or exercising, try to remember to take a reusable water bottle that you can refill with tap water (if accessible). Tap water is the best drink choice for healthy teeth and for keeping your body hydrated. In most Australian communities, tap water includes fluoride which helps to protect and strengthen the teeth. 
If you regularly drink sports drinks, be sure to drink water after. Also attend for regular dental examinations to ensure your teeth remain healthy.