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Be kind to your teeth: Why you don’t need sports drinks

Sports drinks help you “go the distance”, according to the marketing. And by drinking them, you’ll be able to push your body that little bit further. Well, unless you are an elite athlete, like Dan Carter, we at Turner Lim Orthodontists do NOT recommend them.

What sports drinks do

During vigorous exercise, if you lose more fluid than your body can replace through sweating, you can become dehydrated. Dehydration will affect your performance because your blood comprises mainly water. This causes your blood volume to decrease and means your heart must work harder to circulate blood throughout your body.

So, the purpose of sports drinks it to hydrate you by replenishing your body with carbohydrates and electrolytes.

Sports drinks are supposed to hydrate you faster than water can. In reality, you’re only likely to need them if you lose more than a litre of body fluid in an hour. And here lies the problem: Everyday sportspeople, particularly children, are highly unlikely to ever lose that much body fluid during exercise. To make matters worse, many people drink sports drinks just because they like the taste — they don’t even play sport!

A recipe for tooth decay

By drinking sports drinks, all you are doing is bathing your teeth in a sugary, acidic solution between meals — a solution that will stay in your mouth for about three hours. This can result in nasty stains on your teeth or, in serious cases, tooth decay. Recently, we had a young patient who loved playing soccer and drinking energy drinks. Unfortunately, his love for brushing his teeth wasn’t as powerful, and they began to rot away.


Sports drinks taste good but play havock with your teeth.

Worse than Coke

It’s common knowledge that Coca-Cola, due to its high sugar content, is bad for our teeth and plays a part society’s obesity problem. However, health professionals believe many sports drinks are worse.

Water is best

In most cases, there is nothing better than water for staying hydrated. And sports coaches now tend to recommend their athletes drink it instead of energy drinks.

Here’s a tip for staying hydrated when exercising:

  • Drink about half a litre of water two hours before you begin your exercise.
  • Then, about 15 minutes before you start, drink half a cup of water.
  • During exercise, take a squirt of water every 15 minutes.

If you still feel that you need something more, you can get a dose of electrolytes in tablet form — without the sugar and artificial ingredients.

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How to stop your child sucking their thumb

Does your child suck their thumb? Don’t panic; it’s natural—ultrasound shows that babies suck their thumbs even before they are born! And around 50% of children indulge in thumb or finger sucking at some stage.

The damage thumb sucking causes

If your child does suck their thumb, it is important they don’t do it for too long. You see, the pressure caused by sucking can push a child’s teeth out and away from each other causing them to stick out. It can also damage the structure of the roof of a child’s mouth.

In reality, thumb sucking causes very little — if any — damage during a child’s early years. However, if they continue the habit when their adult teeth begin to erupt (at around six or seven years of age), they can experience the problems described later on.

To get an idea of the extent of your child’s habit, inspect their fingers or thumbs — you may see calluses or blisters.

Why do children suck their thumbs?

Babies are hard-wired to suck — it’s how they eat. Most babies, though, stop sucking their thumbs at around six months of age. Children who continue sucking their thumbs for longer usually do so when tired, bored or need comfort. It’s not having something in their mouth that they like, rather the pleasure they receive from sucking.

How to stop the habit

There are several things you can do to nip the habit in the bud. For example, you can try “mind games”, and tell your child that Santa’s security cameras are watching, so they had better stop if they want to stay off Santa’s naughty list. Not exactly honest, but it can work..

Here are some other solutions:

  • Varnish — apply a varnish, which tastes really bad, to your child’s fingers or thumbs. Unfortunately, it’s not too hard to lick off, though.
  • Old sock — put a smelly old sock on your child’s hand. Most little girls particularly are horrified by the thought of going anywhere near a smelly old sock.
  • Pretty ring — give your daughter a ring to wear on the offending finger or thumb. Her desire to look after the ring can discourage her from thumb or finger sucking.
  • Thumb guard — this is an oversized silicon tube that fits over the thumb. It is attached to a clip on a child’s wrist, which prevents them from taking it off. Of course, your child can still put the tube in their mouth, but they won’t enjoy the sucking sensation.
  • Thumb crib — your orthodontist can attach a thumb crib to your child’s top molars. It is like a little gate that acts as a reminder that no thumbs are allowed.

So, there are several ways to prevent a child sucking their fingers or thumb. Some may seem a little drastic, a bit sneaky, but if they prevent problems later on, they’re well worth it.

What do you think? Can you suggest any other ways to prevent thumb sucking? We welcome your comments.
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My child wears dental braces. Can they still play sport?

Sport is important for a child’s development. It keeps them physically fit and teaches important social skills, too. So, if your child is getting dental braces, can they still play sport? Absolutely!

Dental braces should NOT prevent your child from playing any sport. However, particularly if participating in a contact sport, like rugby or hockey, they should always wear a mouth guard (incidentally, hockey is second only to rugby for sports injuries).

Will any mouth guard do?

We won’t usually make a custom mouth guard for a patient; when their teeth move their mouth guard will eventually no longer fit — we want something that will fit for the duration of a patient’s treatment. We do have some options available, though. Usually we’ll advise a patient to get an off-the-shelf orthodontic mouth guard.

General mouth guards

Please note your child needs an orthodontic mouth guard, not one for wearing without braces. There is a difference.

A general mouth guard is made from thermoplastic. Before use, it needs to be heated in boiling water and then bitten into to make an imprint of the teeth. When wearing dental braces, this type of mouth guard doesn’t work well. This is because teeth will move during the course of orthodontic treatment. A general mouth guard will try to pull the teeth back into their original position, or the mouth guard will eventually no longer fit. Also, general mouth guards fit a bit too well, so if your child gets hit hard in the teeth, the brackets on their braces can get knocked off.

Orthodontic braces

So, we recommend your child wears an orthodontic mouth guard. Orthodontic mouth guards are made from silicone — you don’t have to boil them before use. They have flanges designed to be bitten down on to keep them in position. They also have large rubber flanges that slip under the lips to prevent them from being pushed onto the brackets.

Playing a wind musical instrument

We have several patients who play instruments you have to blow into, like saxophones and trumpets, etc. — some are quite accomplished. Wearing braces won’t scuttle their musical careers; however, it can take about a week to find the “right notes” again.
If your child plays a wind instrument, they may need to put something over their braces. There are special covers available; however, wax, which we also use to protect the mouth, is usually sufficient.

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