Carl Henley, DDS, provides comprehensive dental care in Naperville, Illinois.

It’s nearly summer, a time for baseball, 5K races, and long afternoons on the golf course. However, a new study suggests that if your increased activity leads to increased consumption of sports and energy drinks, you may be putting your teeth at risk.

Researchers at Southern Illinois University studied the pH levels of sports drinks and tested how they affect the teeth. They took samples of enamel, the tooth’s protective coating, and submerged them in the drinks for 15 minutes four times a day. In between, they placed the enamel in artificial saliva. After five days of exposure to the drinks, the enamel began to grow thinner. Because enamel protects the teeth against decay-causing bacteria, damage to the enamel can lead to cavities.

In the end, even though they contain electrolytes and vitamins, these drinks are not “healthy.” To restore energy while protecting your teeth, try milk, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains. If you use sports and energy drinks, rinse your mouth out with water after you finish a beverage. With planning, you can protect your oral health while enjoying summer sports.