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Help Your Athlete Patients Fight Tooth Decay


Some of your adult athlete patients are at an increased risk of tooth decay. It’s a statement that seems like an oxymoron, given that active patients are probably otherwise healthy individuals. Unfortunately, the culprit is what many athletes consume on a regular basis—sports drinks and energy bars.

“Adult athletes” doesn’t just refer to celebrities like Serena Williams and Tom Brady. We’re talking about a larger Millennial population, 90% of whom are aware of the obesity epidemic and feel something should be done to address it, according to a Technogym study. Many of these adults are finding new outlets for physical activity, including running, rowing, and mountain biking. To rehydrate and replenish, they often reach for high-sugar energy bars or acidic sports drinks. 

According to Carol Jent, clinical hygienist at Ultradent, tooth enamel begins to demineralize at 5.5 pH. As you probably remember, 7 pH is the pH of water, which is neutral. Soft drinks are way below neutral and in many or even most cases, fitness drinks, as far as acid content, fall even lower on the pH scale than soda. 

“After enamel demineralizes, then dentin and cementum are exposed and those dimineralize even faster than enamel when exposed to acid,” Jent explains. “That’s why it’s so important to protect the enamel with fluoride varnish and sealants before it gets to that point for adults, and the problem is, so many don’t even realize they’re at risk.” 

Aside from consumption of popular sports-inspired snacks, another major risk to health-conscience patients are medications that cause dry mouth, which means that eroding acids in the mouth are not neutralized.   

If a hygienist identifies a patient at increased risk, a treatment plan with fluoride varnish and pit and fissure sealants may be appropriate. Jent recommends that adults get a fluoride varnish up to 4 times a year, depending on their risk, even if they already have sealants. 

If you see an opportunity to offer these services to your patients, take a closer look at Ultradent’s Enamelast fluoride varnish as well as UltraSeal XT plus sealant or UltraSeal XT hydro sealant.  Not only are these peer-recommended products, but they also are supported with patient education materials. An example is the waiting room video below, and the checklist poster at the top right.

Get your patients interested in taking the extra step in prevention of tooth decay. Visit Ultradent’s website to learn more. 

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