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Dentists and athletes perspective on the consumption of sports performance aids: dental erosion in long-distance runners

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Running is known to be good for our general health, our mental health but what about our oral health?


For my study, I wanted to find out if long-distance runners have a higher risk of dental erosion due to the consumption of sports performance aids, and if dental professionals were aware of this relationship. This was most at interest to me since I’m a keen runner, I use sports performance aids and I’m in my final year at the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy to become a Dental Hygienist.

To achieve this, I conducted focus groups consisting of 10 members of an official running club and sent out a questionnaire to Dental Students from Kings College London Institute.


What is Dental Erosion?

Dental erosion is the loss of tooth surface due to acids you eat or drink, or acids from the stomach such as acid reflux and vomiting. These acids can dissolve the crystals that make up your teeth, which then leads to tooth surface loss1. It is important to note, dental erosion is an irreversible condition – once the process has started it can’t be undone!


The Signs of Dental Erosion

What Has Dental Erosion Got To Do With Running?


We know long-distance runners are generally supported by sports performance aids. Popular sports drinks chosen by runners include; Lucozade, Powerade and Tailwind. Popular sports gels include; SIS, High5 and Koumanu. Runners tend to have a love/hate relationship with these products (especially gels from their thick, sticky texture) but use them to increase performance and sustain energy levels. However, these products all contain acid.

Research suggests athletes are at higher risk of dental erosion from the frequency of sports performance aids used2. It is estimated between 36%-85% of athletes have clinical signs of erosion with usual diet and sports drinks and supplements being the main causes3.


Surprisingly in the UK, dental erosion is the third most reported oral condition which is becoming a growing concern for dental practitioners4, yet the condition is not routinely screened or monitored by dentists as part of routine check-ups4.


Lifestyle Choices

Lifestyle choices can include occupation, general work/life balance and any habits related to sporting activities such as the consumption of sports performance aids. Research explains that an individuals’ lifestyle can be the cause for up to 80% of dental problems related to dental erosion5.

This graph shows lifestyle choices that are related to the cause of dental erosion6.



Saliva Can Actually Help Reduce Dental Erosion


Saliva can repair the early stages of tooth erosion from its powerful natural defence mechanism that helps to repair the tooth crystals from acid attacks7. When we run, some of us get a reduced salivary flow resulting in having a dry mouth. Dry mouths can also increase your risk of dental erosion. So, it is important to keep hydrated with the help from water.


The Key Findings of My Research…


Focus Groups:

  • The majority of athletes (70%) would choose a sports drink over water on long-distance runs giving the reasons being they noticed sports drinks increase their energy levels and therefore performance.



  • 70% of athletes would use more sports drinks at an event and 80% would use more sports gels as shown in the graph below:

  • Dental erosion had been notified to 40% of the athletes at their routine check-ups.


  • 70% of athletes had some sort of awareness of the detrimental effects sports performance aids could have on the oral cavity. The assumptions were based on the sugar and sweeteners context of the sports drinks and gels.


The Questionnaire:

  • 60% of the Dental Students took part in running activity but, 0% consumed sports performance aids when out on a run.


  • During examination appointments, only 1 Dental Student asked their patients what their hobbies were and 0% asked if their patients participated in physical activity.


  • 61% of Dental Students were unlikely to ask their patients who suffered from dental erosion if they used sports drinks as shown in the graph below using a Linkert Scale:

  • Only 23% of Dental Students screened for dental erosion on examination.


  • 77% of Dental Students admitted there was none or not enough awareness in regards to sports performance aids and running activity… with a couple of the responses being;


No…it has never come up before this study”


“No I think that the questions asked in relation to diet advice are more focused on everyday food and drink…I do not hear many [dentists] ask about hobbies if dental erosion is detected.



Where do we go from here?


From the results of this study, I recommend that further education is required for Dental Students to prevent the occurrence of DE and to provide the most suitable treatment options to their patients’.


From an athletes’ perception, sports performance aids are used by a large population of athletes’, however, the focus groups reveal most athletes’ are aware of the detrimental effects sports performance aids can have on their oral health, but will continue to use them due to the positive effects they have on their running performance.


By dental professionals’ expanding their knowledge in this field, increases the likelihood that their patients’ who partake in running activity will also become more aware on the signs of erosion and therefore make small changes to their lifestyle.


What Can Runners Do To Prevent Dental Erosion?


  • Choose water over sports drinks to stay hydrated.
  • If using a sports gel, rinse the mouth out with water.
  • Chew sugar free gum to promote saliva flow.
  • Avoid the use of sipping sports drinks frequently – this causes the teeth to be hit with multiple acidic attacks. The use of a straw or ‘gulping’ is an alternative option.


Call for Action


For further reading on this subject, below is a list of links to previous research studies on this topic..


It May as well be Christmas with the Paul Popham Running Club

By | Latest News

The Paul Popham Running Club brought Christmas to Swansea on a sunny May Day Bank Holiday weekend.

The club started in February 2016 with the aim of helping people in Swansea to learn to run for life. Initially training beginners over an 8-week period to go from zero to 5k, culminating in the Swansea Bay 5k Park Run.

Since the very first 8-week program, the club has grown to cater for all abilities, supporting members continued improvement of their running fitness to take part in 10k’s, half-marathons, marathons and triathlons.

Due to lockdown restrictions, the Running Club were unable to run its intended Virtual Christmas relay in December 2020, but members did not let that dampen their Christmas Spirit.

Instead, the club decided that once it was safe to do so (in line with COVID Regulations) they would still run in Christmas fancy dress – whatever the weather!

The Swansea Bay seafront was decorated with running elves, fairies and reindeers, and the teams had to complete 26.2 miles, which was divided amongst team members.

The winning team – Team Santa and The Savage Elves – completed the distance in an amazing 3 hours and 36 mins. As they only had three team members this is especially impressive – massive kudos to them!!!

More importantly, seeing all the team members running with massive smiles on their faces in the glorious sunshine is a perfect example of what the club is all about. It is not just a running club; it is where you make lifelong friends and fantastic memories.

To find out more about the Paul Popham Running Club, or to join, visit: http://www.paulpophamrunningclub.co.uk/membership/

Swansea Bay VIRTUAL 5k Series 2020

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Due to the Pandemic the annual Swansea Bay Summer Bay 5k Series was cancelled in May, June and July this year we rescheduled for August, September and October and ran them virtually. Series 1 and Series 2 are now complete and the winners are:



Place Time First name Last name Category
1 19.47.00 Mark Hiddlestone 40 plus
2 20:38:00 Dai Rees 30 plus
3 22.39.00 Andy Rees 60 Plus


Place Time First name Last name Category
1 22.54.00 Jenny McAdie 40 plus
2 25.15.00 Tina Gabb 40 Plus
3 25.46.00 Frances Thomas 50 Plus




Place Time Name Category
1 20:02 Dai Rees 30 Plus
2 22:34 Andy Rees 60 Plus
3 22:42 Mark Hiddlestone 40 Plus


Place Time Name Category
1 23:04 Jenny McAdie 40 Plus
2 25.03 Frances Thomas 50 Plus
3 25:59:00 Sophie Beresford 30     lus
August 2020 Full List Sept 2020 Full List

A medal is on the way to each entrant for August and September and a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place medal for the winning ladies and gentleman – well done and sorry for the delay!

The final Series is due now – October 2020.

The entry fee is just £7 with a medal for all who complete the race.

All you need to do is:

  • Pick your own 5k route.
  • Run the route at anytime during October 2020.
  • Send in your race results no later than the last date of that month.


  • You will be 18 years or over at the time of the race.
  • You will me medically fit.
  • You are responsible for planning your own 5k route and that it must be 5k only, if shorter or longer your race may not be included in the results.
  • You can use the original 5k Series route which starts and ends at Secret Beach Bar and Restaurant, Mumbles Road, Swansea.
  • You are responsible for ensuring that the route is safe and all risks have been considered.
  • You will follow the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales guidance on safe distance, if found not to be following the guidance your entry will be disqualified.
  • You can run your 5k race at anytime in the event month.
  • You will record your race on Strava or any other fitness app that can be uploaded and sent to the race organisers. The information sent has to record the following:
    • Completed a 5k route
    • The date
    • Time to complete the distance
    • Your name has to be the same name on your entry form
  • You will send the entry on the last day of the event month as follows:
    • 00pm 31st October 2020



  • Results will be uploaded to the Paul Popham Running Club Website and the events facebook page.
  • If you complete all 3 events, completion means entered and sent proof for all 3 events, you will receive a series t-shirt at the end of the series.



Huge shout out to our sponsors for the Virtual Series who are: Freedom leisure, ND John Wine & First 4 Numbers!




To Book the last Series click here



Swansea Bay Summer 5k Series and Fun Run Update

By | Latest News
Swansea Bay Summer 5k Series and Fun Run 

It is with great regret that currently, we have no alternative but to cancel the 5k Summer Series 2020. Following the advice of the Government and Public Health Wales, City and County Council of Swansea have taken to the decision to cancel or postpone all events until the end of August 2020. We are hoping to be able to reschedule dates but at this stage, we can not confirm new dates until we have further advice from the Government and Public Health Wales. We will provide full refunds on current entries and we will keep you updated of our future plans, as we review the situation on a regular basis.

Until then keep safe.

Joanne Popham