Is Zero Sugar Gatorade Bad For Your Teeth?

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Medically reviewed by Danielle Romatz, RDH

People are increasingly becoming aware of their sugar intake and cutting back on unnecessary sugars. To appease the growing public demand, PepsiCo began to offer sugar-free versions of Gatorade and widely promoted it as a healthy alternative. But is Zero Sugar Gatorade still bad for your teeth?

Zero Sugar Gatorade is bad for your teeth. It might not contain sugars, but it still has corrosive acids that erode tooth enamel. If consumed regularly, Zero Sugar Gatorade can weaken your teeth and make them vulnerable to decay and other dental issues.

Gatorade has been around since 1965 and is one of the most popular sports drinks in the USA. Given that it’s marketed as a sports drink, it contains lots of sugars and electrolytes to support the active lifestyle of sports enthusiasts. The no-sugar formula might have solved the issue of excessive sugar intake, but it still contains acids that can harm your teeth. So, let’s take a look at how these acids are bad for your dental health.

Is Zero Sugar Gatorade Bad For Your Teeth?

To fully understand how Zero Sugar Gatorade affects your teeth, here’s a look at the sugar-free formula. Gatorade Zero Sugar Glacier Freeze Thirst Quencher has:

  • Water
  • Citric Acid
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Salt
  • Monopotassium Phosphate
  • Modified Food Starch
  • Natural Flavor
  • Sucralose
  • Acesulfame Potassium
  • Glycerol Ester of Rosin

Notice the two acids at the top of the list – citric acid and sodium citrate. Monophosphate potassium can also turn into phosphoric acid in your mouth.

While there are lots of electrolytes in the drink to replenish your lost salt and there are no pure sugars, it’s these acids that pose a threat to your teeth. After all, the Gatorade will have to pass through your teeth to get to your stomach.

Acids like the ones listed here can eat through the protective layer on the surface of your teeth. So each time you drink these, you’re weakening the enamel of your teeth and exposing the underlying dentin that will become more sensitive as time goes on.

This damage to your teeth means they’ll be much more sensitive to hot and cold food, prone to cavities, and more susceptible to plaque buildup. The acids will also leave your teeth discolored with stains and streaks.

So yes, the sugar-free version of Gatorade is also bad for your teeth. Now you won’t necessarily experience the side effects by just drinking one or two bottles, but it adds up if you drink these every day. To do yourself a favor, cut down on your sports drink.

Is Zero Sugar Gatorade Better For Your Teeth Than Normal Gatorade?

Each 20-ounce bottle of standard Gatorade contains 34 grams of sugar, and there is nothing hidden about how sugar is the stark enemy of your teeth. When you drink Gatorade, the sugar sticks to the surface of the tooth in the form of a thick layer and invites cavity-causing bacteria to grow and breed on your teeth.

Furthermore, it increases plaque and erodes your enamel. While all this is happening, the acids in the drink accelerate the process of tooth decay.

Compare this with its zero-sugar version – it doesn’t have sugars, so no sticky layer and bacteria breeding. However, it still contains citric acids and phosphoric acids that erode your teeth and leave them vulnerable to tooth decay and damage.

So, we can say that the sugar-free version is not as bad for your teeth as the standard drink is, but it’s still not a good idea to keep drinking it. Your teeth will suffer either way.

Do Electrolyte Drinks Hurt Your Teeth?

Electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade rehydrate the body with essential salts and sugars to make up for the electrolytes lost when you engage in physical exercise. Athletes and sports enthusiasts swear by these drinks to restore energy after a heavy workout.

But it’s a fact that electrolyte drinks have a fair amount of sugar and acids, which can cause severe damage to your teeth. As we mentioned above, sugars stick to your teeth and invite plaque and bacteria to grow. Also, acids make the situation worse by eroding your enamel and weakening it.

As a result, your weak teeth will be much more sensitive to hot and cold, giving you toothaches and other issues. Consuming electrolyte drinks regularly will make your teeth weak and sensitive and even more vulnerable to cavities and dental issues.

Does Drinking Gatorade Out Of a Straw Help My Teeth?

Sipping Gatorade through a straw will reduce the amount of contact between your teeth and the drink, so it isn’t as harmful as drinking it directly from a bottle. When you use a straw, the drink bypasses most of your teeth and gums.

It’ll result in less exposure to corrosive acids and sugars. Straws also prevent teeth staining, which is common with sports drinks.

However, this won’t make Gatorade any better for your teeth. Either way, some of your teeth will be exposed to the corrosive acids and sweeteners in the drink. So, stay hydrated but try other beverages than Gatorade, like water.

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