Skip to main content


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

By Latest News

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..



By Latest News

Learn 2 Run 4 Life with the Paul Popham Running Club. The club has been set-up to encourage everyone in Swansea to learn to run and realise the benefits running gives to your quality of life #Learn2Run4Life. We have groups to cater all abilities from absolute beginners – zero to 5k in 8/9 weeks, for those who can run 5k, for those who can run between 5k and 10k and for those who want to run a half marathon and more. It is our aim to encourage you to achieve your personal goals and learn to run for life not just for one race!


12th January 2020

The LC

Weekly Sessions FREE!

On the 8th/9th week you will either take part in the ParkRun on Saturday or a timed 5k/10k at club on the Sunday.

Session Times


9.00am to 10.00am


6pm to 7pm


Club Fees:

  • £5 one off donation for NEW G1 Runners ONLY at the start of their program
  • £35 membership payable after 1st 8/9 weeks for beginners or if not a beginner after 3rd session
  • All weekly sessions are FREE



Program 1

Date Information
12th January to 4th March 8 Week Program
12th Jan West Glam
2nd Feb West Glam
March West Glam
7th March G1 Park Run
8th March Club timed session
11th March Club Fun Session
13th March Club Night Out

Program 2

Date Information
15th March to 6th May 8 Week Program
9th May G1 Park Run
10th May Club timed session
14th May 5k Series 1
15th May Club Night Out

Program 3

Date Information
17th May 2019 to 5th July 8 Week Program
11th June 5k Series 2
14th June SHM20
9th July 5k Series 3
11th July G1 Park Run
15th July NO SESSION
17th July Club Night Out

Program 4

Date Information
149th July 2019 to 16th September 2019 9 Week Program
19th September G1 Park Run
20th September Swansea Bay 10k

Club timed session

23rd September Club Fun Session
25th September Club Night Out




Program 5

Date Information
27th September 2019 to 18th November 2019 8 Week Program
4th October CHM20
22nd November 2019 Wear Wally
27th November Awards Night


Local Running Club Hits the Vegas Strip

By Latest News

18 members of the Paul Popham Running Club took part in the las Vegas rock ‘n’ roller marathon, half marathon, 10k and 5k event this weekend..

Founder of the Running Club, Joanne Popham, always had the ambition to run the New York Marathon to celebrate her 50th birthday.  Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get places in the New York Marathon which welcomes runners from all over the world, so she is doing something a bit different – a run along the infamous Vegas Strip.

Jo will also be using this race as part of her training and build-up to her first marathon in her 50th year the 2020 London Marathon with other members from the club who also run Vegas- Steve and Lisa Arnold and Amber Brundle.

Commenting on the Vegas run, Jo said, “I really wanted to do something momentous for my 50th birthday and the New York Marathon was top of my bucket list.  As this wasn’t possible, while on a training run at the beginning of this year, with one of our club leaders and coach, Steve Arnold, he suggested Vegas. I can’t quite believe it has come around so quickly and can’t thank Steve Arnold enough for organising this iconic trip for the club out of the 19 of us 1 Ran his first marathon, Leigh Beasley, 3 ran the 10k Nicola Probert, Mario Moruzzi and Abigail Hewitt with the rest of us running the half marathon myself Steve and Lisa Arnold, Dave Bivens, Donna ford also her first half, Anna Powell, Amber Brundle, Simone Evans, dean and Andrea Matthews, Melissa Ferreira, Jos O’Sullivan Andrea Thomas and Kasia Luszczki and not forgetting our team supporter Stephen Rees. It’s just fantastic to see so many come from learning to run to now running many half’s and to have run such an iconic race it has been an amazing experience for us all. We ran the strip as one team – ladies in Welsh Flag Skirts and gentleman in welsh flag shorts! We are so excited!”

The runners flew to Vegas on 13th November and ran their races on19th November 2019. Any funds raised from this run will go to the Paul Popham Renal Fund Wales Charity.

Swansea Bay Summer 5k Series and Fun Run Race 1 Round Up

By Latest News




9th May 2019

The 3rd Annual Swansea Bay Summer 5k Series & Fun Run got off to a good start on Thursday 9th May 2019. As many are aware the 5k start and finish is from the old 360, which is currently under development from the new owners – SEVEN – due to the this we were all a little uncertain of how the first event in the 2019 series would go – and I think it can be said – we needn’t have worried. SEVEN, PPRC and Nigel Jones, Welsh Athletics official (and mother nature) all came together to make sure that despite a lack of facilities the event went off to a GREAT start! Nigel brought his p

ortable office, SEVEN brought the outside catering and PPRC brought the willing volunteers and mother nature brought the sun out just at the right time!

The Kids 1k and 2.5k Fun Run got off to a good start with a total of 15 children in our first event, hoping this will double for the next event with some local schools getting their pupils involved in this fun event. The 5k had a total of 101 registering online and 67 sign up on the night the total entrants for the first event were 168!

The 5k series includes 3 events the next two are on the 13th June and 11th July. For each 5k event there are trophies for 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed runners in the Junior (11 to 15 years of age), Female and Male categories and on the last event the overall winner for each category is announced. There is also a trophy for the winner of the 1k and 2.5k Fun Run for the children 11 years of age and under. There is an overall series winner at the end of the series in each of the categories – Junior, Male and Female and watch this space we may include additional categories going forward…….

The aim of the Swansea Bay Summer 5k Series and Fun Run is to being the running community of Swansea together, clubs and fun runners, to take part in an achievable distance under race conditions. Participants can aim to improve their time over the 3 events.

HUGE Thanks to all participants, volunteers from PPRC, SEVEN staff, Scott Powell and daughter from Tri and Enter (Just happened to be Scott’s birthday on our first event!) and Rhys Morris who stepped in at the last hour with his PA and music. Thanks to Helen Bivens and Angela Harris for taking the photos and of course a massive thank you to all our sponsors Verdis, Gemeg, Home from Home, Freedom Leisure and The LC, J&S Products and First4Numbers & Falck for providing the first aid cover. We are also hoping to raise over £3000 for the Paul Popham Fund to support kidney patients to compete in the transplant games.


Junior Results

Category Position 5k Position Name Club Time
1 10 Aled Tumelty 00:18:09.95
2 17 Logan Lambe 00:18:54.60

Female Results

Category Position 5k Position Name Club Time
1 23 Rachel Davies Swansea Harriers 00:19:11.50
2 25 Helen-Marie Davies Swansea Harriers 00:19:27.95
3 29 Llinos Jones Swansea Harriers 00:19:46.80

Male Results

Category Position 5k Position Name Club Time
1 1 Rob Davies Amman Valley Runners 00:16:56:05
2 2 Craig Jones Swansea Harriers 00:17:32.10
3 3 Steven Wilkinson Nene Valley Harriers 00:17:38.55

2.5k Fun Run

Position Name Category Race Number Time
1st Girl Hannah Sullivan 2.5k 3 13.26
1st Boy Isaac McAdie 2.5k 1 12.05

1k Fun Run

Position Name Category Race Number Time
1st Girl Tia Taylor 1k 5 5.58
1st Boy Ellis Bennett 1k 1 4.38
3 Anna Sartori 1k 15 04:49