- January 9, 2016
We’re already more than a week into 2016 – did you know that over a quarter of new year’s resolutions have already been given up? Hopefully you’re still going strong on yours! If your resolution included getting in shape then we have some news for you: that exercise regimen might endanger your teeth!
It’s a well known fact that professional athletes have bad teeth, and it isn’t just from all that partying they do. There are actual links between the amount of exercise you do and your risk of cavities, and just because you only jog a few mornings a week doesn’t mean you’re immune from an increased risk.
Exercise And Your Smiles: Don’t Develop “Athlete’s Mouth!”
If you had to guess what caused athletes to get more cavities what would you say? Sports drinks? Not enough dental care? Both of these definitely contribute but there’s a surprising element that causes bad cases of decay in the physically active: saliva.
That’s right – your body’s own cavity fighting solution actually turns against you when you’re exercising. Studies performed on athletes and average people during rest found no difference, but when they were exercising the pH level in their saliva changed drastically! It actually became more alkaline, which is the opposite of acidic. Your teeth are damaged by acids, so you’d think alkaline saliva wouldn’t be a problem, but it actually interferes with proteins in your mouth that aid its ability to fight tooth decay.
When that protein can’t do its jobs plaque bacteria is free to do what it does instead. And that is produce acids that erode your tooth enamel. The more exercise you do the worse things are too – a lot of exercise can mean a lot of damage to your teeth.
Combine that with the fact that dehydration during exercise leads to less saliva production and you have a bad combination of factors: less saliva to fight decay, and the stuff that is there isn’t doing its job!
A lot of athletes and people who exercise casually drink sports drinks, which aren’t as much a help as they are a risk for your teeth: they contain tons of sugar! Since your mouth isn’t properly regulating its oral bacteria levels that bacteria is free to feast on that sugar and turn it into tooth-destroying acid.
All these risks don’t mean you should give up on your new year’s resolution, though! Just think of how much better you’ll look and feel once you’re in shape. If you follow some simple steps you won’t have to worry about any damage to your teeth, either. It can be simple to maintain your oral health with an increased exercise regimen: just apply the same discipline you’re using to sustain that workout schedule!
Preventing Harm: It’s Not That Hard!
There’s really no reason that increased risks have to equal increased cavities. When you find yourself at risk for a potential health problem you just take steps to resolve it – the same goes for your smile!
- Don’t drink sugary sports drinks! Sure, they might “replenish your electrolytes,” but they also replenish your sugar levels. That’s where the risk comes in. As for the need for electrolyte replenishment, you can get most of that from a meal after you work out. Sports drinks really don’t serve much use unless you’re working out hard for more than an hour.
- Make sure you’re brushing your teeth at least twice a day, and be sure to do it before a workout. This is especially true if you work out later in the day after you’ve eaten a meal prior. Since your mouth is going to have a harder time fighting cavities due to exercise give it a clean slate to work with. Get the food, bacteria, and acid out with some good old fashioned oral hygiene!
- Make sure you aren’t forgetting to see us every six months for an exam and cleaning! It’s important that we are able to tell when there’s a potential issue, and seeing you twice a year is just the right amount of time to catch things before they get serious. We’ll also be able to clean out bacteria that’s been hanging around in hard-to-reach spots, giving you a clean slate to keep healthy.
Get In Shape And Smile When You Show It Off!
We’d love to help you get in shape and keep your smile for years to come, so let us help you be sure it’s in top-notch shape! Call our Shorewood dentist office today at 815-768-1615 or request an appointment by filling out our online form. We look forward to seeing you soon!