Acidic soft drinks, including sports drinks, have been implicated in dental erosion with limited supporting data in scarce erosion studies worldwide. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of dental erosion in a sample of athletes at a large Midwestern state university in the USA, and to evaluate whether regular consumption of sports drinks was associated with dental erosion. A cross-sectional, observational study was done using a convenience sample of 304 athletes, selected irrespective of sports drinks usage. The Lussi Index was used in a blinded clinical examination to grade the frequency and severity of erosion of all tooth surfaces excluding third molars and incisal surfaces of anterior teeth. A self-administered questionnaire was used to gather details on sports drink usage, lifestyle, health problems, dietary and oral health habits. Intraoral color slides were taken of all teeth with erosion. Sports drinks usage was found in 91.8% athletes and the total prevalence of erosion was 36.5%. Nonparametric tests and stepwise regression analysis using history variables showed no association between dental erosion and the use of sports drinks, quantity and frequency of consumption, years of usage and nonsport usage of sports drinks. The most significant predictor of erosion was found to be not belonging to the African race (p < 0.0001). The results of this study reveal no relationship between consumption of sports drinks and dental erosion.
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