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Is Pre-workout Bad for Your Teeth? (From A Dentist)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

Being a fitness trainer, I often get questions about whether the benefits of pre-workouts outweigh some risks.

Recently conversations have revolved around the question if pre-workouts are bad for oral health.

Because I am a fitness trainer and don’t hold a dental degree, I reached out to an experienced professional to go over available literature on the subject and discuss what happens when such drinks come in direct contact with your teeth.

Let’s take a closer look.

Quick Summary

  • The best way to minimize any negative impact on your oral health is to mix pre-workouts properly and pick ones with low sugar content that don’t contain ingredients with high acidity.
  • Dry scooping pre-workout drinks is a trending practice that wreaks havoc not just on your teeth but on the rest of your body.
  • Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body, but does not regenerate, so once it erodes, the damage opens the door for bacteria to enter.

Pre-workout and Your Teeth

A dentist looking at a patient's teeth

Pre-workouts can be a valuable asset to your workout routine, increasing energy and endurance and promoting muscle growth and recovery.

However, as good as they are, many include ingredients that can negatively impact oral health.

There are a couple of things you need to look for on the ingredient label of your next workout sports drink; however, before we look at those specifically, there is something critically important to remember when purchasing a supplement.

The FDA does not regulate pre-workout supplements in the same way as medications. Because of this, purchasing from reputable sources is essential.

To ensure quality and safety, purchase supplements:

  • Manufactured in GMP-certified facilities
  • Manufactured in FDA-approved facilities
  • Third-party tested

What to Watch For

A person looking at their phone outside

Now let’s take a quick look at ingredients that may put your teeth at risk.

Acid

Many pre-workouts contain ingredients like citric acid (CA) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) for preservation and taste. You can recognize acids as:

  • Preservatives ending in “ate,” like sorbate, monosodium glutamate, and sodium benzoate
  • By certain additive food/code numbers (300 or 331 is CA, 30 is vitamin C)

Sports drinks containing these ingredients wear down your tooth enamel, the hardest substance in your body, creating an environment that welcomes bacteria and promotes cavities [1].

The best advice I received from a dentist is to use a fluoride mouth rinse regularly to minimize risks and protect the teeth.

Sugar

If you are like me and get your teeth cleaned on a regular basis, you likely have had discussions with the dental hygienist about the relationship between sugar and cavities.

Like acid, sugar attracts harmful bacteria that can destroy the tooth’s enamel [2].

“Certain habits are linked to tooth decay, including snacking on high-sugar foods, drinking sugary or acidic beverages, sipping on sweet drinks and eating sticky foods.”

- Verena Tan, RD, PhD

Dry Scooping

Top view of dry pre-workout powder

Dry scooping is a social media trend that promotes taking a scoop of powder, generally pre-workouts, without mixing it with water which leads to feeling the effects faster.

Is dry scooping bad?

The answer is a resounding yes because manufacturers design these powders to mix with water diluting the acidic and sugary ingredients in the formula.

Undiluted acids and sugar stick to your teeth and put the enamel at risk of erosion.

The focus here is on teeth; however, the other risks of dry scooping are significant and worth mentioning.

The following list of adverse effects will further answer the question: “is dry scooping bad?” [3].

These include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lung infection
  • Lung irritation
  • Dehydration
  • Digestive issues

Tips for Not Wrecking Your Teeth

A person with one finger up while holding a toothbrush on the other

If you use a workout supplement or sports drinks, there is some advice you can follow to minimize damage [4].

Here are some tips:

  • Delay toothbrushing - waiting an hour before brushing gives the saliva a chance to do its job, wash away any acids, and re-harden the enamel.
  • Don’t dry scoop - dry scooping allows undiluted acid to promote irreversible enamel erosion.
  • Use a straw - this can limit the amount of direct contact the drink has with your teeth.
  • Do not swish drinks around your mouth - this will coat your teeth and increase the risk of damage; sip and swallow.
  • Neutralize the acid - rinsing your mouth with water, drinking milk, or eating cheese can help neutralize the acid due to the calcium in dairy.
  • Chew sugar-free gum - to keep saliva flowing and protecting your teeth, chew gum, make sure it has the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

FAQs

Does Creatine Hurt Your Teeth?

Creatine itself isn’t likely to hurt your teeth and is a common ingredient in many pre-workouts considered generally safe; be aware of the product’s sugar content and mix it properly.

Can I Drink Pre-workouts With Braces?

You can drink pre-workouts with braces but maintaining good oral hygiene as directed by your dentist, remaining hydrated, and properly mixing your workout supplement are essential to minimize any adverse effects.

So, Are Pre-workouts Bad for Your Teeth?

When appropriately used, pre-workout drinks can be a great addition to your fitness routine alongside regular visits to the gym and a healthy diet.

You can absolutely protect your teeth by avoiding dry scooping, mixing the product properly, and following the tips I outlined above, and still reap the benefits of boosting your workout.

There are many options out there, so we have tested dozens of pre-workouts and compiled a list of the best:

Click the link to find out our number one picks.


References:

  1. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/fun-teeth-facts-part-2
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14972061/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dry-scooping-pre-workout-tiktok
  4. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/e/dietary-acids-and-your-teeth
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