Australian Dental Association [ADA] committee chair Dr Peter Alldritt said players should stick to water to avoid erosion and tooth decay.
"People sometimes drink sports drinks thinking they are healthier than a soft drink," he said. "They can contain six to eight teaspoons of sugar in one drink, which is not far behind some soft drinks."
An ADA survey of 1,200 Australians revealed over 50 per cent of adults and around 30 per cent of children consume sports drinks every week, unaware of the health risks.
Dr Alldritt said it was particularly alarming to find those who were aware of the dangers still continued to consume the drinks. He said Australia is recording higher levels of dental diseases than ever before.
In Australia, 50 per cent of children and three out of 10 adults have untreated tooth decay.
Sports drinks can leave you thirsty
Exercise physiologist Robert Skeat said while sports drinks can help restore electrolyte imbalance, water is the healthiest way to hydrate. "The high levels of sodium in these drinks leaves you thirsty and the sugar makes them easier to drink," he said. "They're often sold in gyms and health clubs so we assume they can't be that bad for us."
Dental Health Week begins today with a focus on the oral health habits of active Australians. Dr Alldritt said it was important to protect teeth from sporting injury by wearing a custom-made mouth guard.
He added it was not case of one-size-fits-all and warned generic guards could cause more damage to a person's teeth. "Seventy-five per cent of the people we surveyed are just buying a mouth guard over the counter at a sports store or pharmacy," he said. "These mouth guards don't provide proper protection for your teeth."
Sports Medicine Australia is currently urging sporting organisations to commit to a no mouth guard, no play policy.