Dental health is probably not something you have considered when it comes to your exercise routine. However, it is vitally important when sticking to your health plan and working out regularly to take the proper precautions for your teeth.
Increased cavities can become a real problem for people who work out regularly. While sports drinks and protein shakes can contribute to the issue, the real culprit is your own saliva.
Exercise Can Damage Dental Heath by Altering the pH in Saliva
Normally your saliva helps build strong teeth and fights cavities by keeping the pH in your mouth neutral. Your saliva contains proteins from the salivary glands that normally help break down foods. But when you exercise, the pH in your saliva becomes more alkaline and interferes with the proteins in your mouth that help fight tooth decay.
The protein in your mouth helps prevent a buildup of plaque bacteria. When left unchecked, bacteria produce acid that erodes teeth. More exercise means more damage to teeth.
Dehydration Means Less Saliva and More Dental Health Damage
Making matters even worse, as you exercise and get dehydrated, the salivary glands produce less saliva to fight decay.
“If you rehydrate with a sports drink, you are at more risk because you are adding lots of sugar,” said Dr. Ryan Fitzgerald at Sky Ortho in Moore and Shawnee. “Your mouth is already compromised during exercise due to a temporary pH imbalance. Bacteria feast on the sugar in sports drinks and turn it into tooth-destroying acid.”
4 Simple Things to Improve Dental Health and Keep on Exercising
But don’t stop exercising! It is much healthier overall to be in shape. Just follow some simple steps so you won’t have to worry about any damage to your teeth. It is simple to maintain oral health even with exercise if you apply the same discipline you’re using to sustain your workout schedule.
1. Avoid sugary sports drinks to optimize dental health.
It is important to replenish electrolytes, especially on a hot day. Try doing it with a healthy fresh salad and a light meal after a good workout. If you are an athlete working out excessively for longer than an hour each day, speak to your doctor about the healthiest electrolyte replacements.
2. Brush your teeth twice a day or more if possible.
Be sure to brush right before your workout. This is even more important if you are working out later in the day and have not brushed since your last meal. A clean mouth will make it easier for your body to fight bacteria.
3. Focus on nutrition for dental health.
Eating tooth-healthy foods like cheese, meat, nuts, milk, and crunchy veggies like carrots and celery. These will raise the pH and help fortify your teeth against damage.
4. See your dentist or orthodontist on schedule.
See your dentist or orthodontist at least twice each year unless you are wearing braces or dealing with other issues that require more frequent visits. This will allow your dentist or orthodontist to recognize a potential issue before it becomes serious. Plus, a good cleaning twice a year only helps to keep you healthy.