Rehydration - which drinks are best for your oral health?

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July 21st, 2022

Illustration of man and woman running on sidewalk

Rehydration is the replacement of fluids and electrolytes lost via exercise, illness or other conditions that can deplete the body. While there are many different rehydration choices, it’s important to know which ones are better for your oral health to avoid excess sugar and acid because they can lead to tooth decay.

One of the most popular rehydration choices has been sports drinks. Sports drinks are typically artificially colored, highly sweetened beverages that have added electrolytes and can be helpful for athletes who are exerting themselves for long, intense periods of time. Parents of young children and teens should be aware of the high sugar content in sports drinks; some can have as much sugar as a soda!

Illustration of sports drink bottle and sugar jar to emphasize the high sugar content

Exercise science shows that it is important to rehydrate because prolonged periods of exercise and sweating can cause loss of water and vital electrolytes including sodium, potassium and chloride. While sports drinks can replace losses, there are options that are lower in sugar.

If you participate in intense, prolonged workouts, make sure to choose rehydration options that contain electrolytes. Workouts like hot yoga, long distance running or any workouts in hot temperatures can be more dangerous because of the amount of sweat and electrolytes that are lost.

Rehydration options that are better for oral health:

  • Water: delicious, usually free and city tap water typically contains fluoride which is healthier for your teeth
  • Coconut water: contains electrolytes like potassium, but has much less sugar than other options
  • Electrolyte-infused waters: check sugar content before choosing
  • Low fat or skim milk: has needed electrolytes like calcium and potassium, while maintaining a healthy ratio of sugar and protein
  • Electrolyte tablets: dissolve into water, but be aware of sugar content
  • Over-the-counter oral electrolyte solution (eg. Pedialyte): the classic rehydration solution for children can be a good option because it is lower in sugar than other drinks while still containing electrolytes
Illustration of bottle of coconut water, a whole watermelon and a slice of watermelon

Another overlooked way to replace lost electrolytes is through food. Here are some to choose from:

  • Bananas: one of the best (and most portable) ways to replace potassium which is critical for muscle activity and recovery.
  • Watermelon: a good choice of fruit that is lower in sugar
  • Other foods that are mostly water include cucumbers, melons, oranges and celery.

Be aware: beverages that contain large amounts of caffeine or alcohol can lead to dehydration because of increased urination.

This information in this post is for general educational purposes only and does not warrant or represent any information as related to health as specifically appropriate for you. It is not intended to be medical advice or replace the relationship that you have with your health care providers. You should always seek medical advice on any diagnosis or treatment from a qualified health care provider. The information is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied.

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