An in vitro investigation into the effects of sports gels/drinks on human hard tissue – Consumer habits and Dentist knowledge

  • William F. Keys

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Dental Science


Tooth wear has become increasingly prevalent among all age ranges of the human population and with an increase in the numbers maintaining their dentition to later years, it can be a challenging dilemma to manage in many aspects. The increase in prevalence occurring in younger individuals can be related to dietary habits. This provides challenges in both the short and long term management of such patients within the current health care system.

To examine dietary habits in relation to sports gels/drinks/supplements of amateur athletes, the potential erosive potential of such products and to gain an insight into the opinion of general dental practitioners managing tooth wear in the practice setting. The hypothesis of this study is as follows; Sports supplements may contribute to the erosive wear of the human dentition.

This study comprises of five interrelated components:
• A questionnaire (questionnaire 1) to establish dietary habits of amateur athletes
• A questionnaire (questionnaire 2) to establish clinical experience and current practice of general dental practitioners
• Determining titratable acidity of commonly used drinks/supplements using 0.1M NaOH.

• Measuring contact angle of popular drinks/supplements on 3 different surfaces (tooth/ostrich egg/glass slide)
• Measuring the effects of drinks/supplements on the surface microhardness of tooth.

Fifty participants completed questionnaire one. Thirty of which were male and twenty were female amateur athletes. A range of drinks/supplements was identified for laboratory testing.

Forty two dentists replied to questionnaire two. The P value when comparing how pre 2000 graduates felt their undergraduate studies had prepared them to manage tooth wear compared to 2001 and onwards graduates was 0.54. When comparing international versus UK graduates on their undergraduate experience a P value of 0.31 was obtained. Demonstrating no statistically significant difference between year of graduation and country of qualification in attitudes towards there clinical experience of managing tooth wear.

An analysis of variance (ANOVA) of the mean titratable acidity revealed highly significant (P<0.0001) differences between drinks/supplements. Demonstrating some sports drinks/supplements may contribute to tooth wear. There were significant differences (P <0.0001) between contact angles achieved on the different surfaces. Demonstrating there was a difference in viscosity of the various test drinks/solutions.

All but three of the test substrates demonstrated highly significant differences (P<0.01) in surface microhardness following exposure to the energy gels tested. Demonstrating some may also contribute to tooth wear.

The use of sports drinks/supplements is commonplace among amateur athletes and their use may be contributing to the increased prevalence of tooth wear in younger individuals participating in sport.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGraham Chadwick (Supervisor) & Andrew Mason (Supervisor)

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