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THE IMPACT OF EXERCISE ON ORAL HYGIENE

THE IMPACT OF EXERCISE ON ORAL HYGIENE

The New Year has come and so have the New Year’s resolutions. In a UK survey taken in January 2017, it was found that 38% of people had ‘exercise more’ as their number one resolution, with 33% wanting to lose weight. 1

These are definitely noble pursuits and something that we encourage. We hope that people are able to stick to their goals by making them achievable, and maintainable, for the long-run. As your time goes on and you find your exercise regime is intensifying, there is another matter that you may need to consider which may have slipped your radar. Your oral hygiene. We have covered a similar topic in a previous blog almost one year ago, yet this time we wanted to look at the hygiene side of things.

It is a common perception that anyone who exercises regularly and eats healthy will not have to worry about their oral hygiene as much as someone who eats junk food. But this is not always the case.

If you are someone who has started working out, or exercising regularly, approximately 2-3 times a week, then your standard oral hygiene practices should be fine. However, if you find yourself exercising 5-7 days a week for 1-2 hours a day, you may be at a greater risk of tooth decay and cavities.

What is it about exercise that can cause these problems?

One of the biggest causes of oral hygiene problems, not surprisingly, is Sports Drinks.

Many of those undertaking intense workout regimes, athletes included, prefer to rehydrate by drinking sports drinks or energy drinks. While the electrolytes in these beverages can help to refuel the body and stay hydrated during a workout, they can take a major toll on your teeth.

The leading brands of sports drinks on the market typically contain as much as two-thirds the sugar of sodas and more sodium. They also often contain high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), artificial flavours and food colouring, none of which belong in your body.2

The sugar contained in these drinks goes a long way to contributing to cavities and rotting teeth. Also, there is so much acid in sports drinks that damage occurs after only five days of consistent consumption. 3

Another cause of bad oral hygiene from exercising is open mouth breathing.

Many people, athletes included, breathe through their mouth. However, the intensity of the breathing will be dictated by the intensity of the exercise, which can result in dry mouth and reduce saliva, giving bacteria an opportunity to grow and thrive.

A 2014 study in The Scandinavian Journal of Sports Medicine looked 35 triathletes and 35 controls5, the athletes showed a significantly greater erosion of tooth enamel than controls. The triathletes had much lower levels of saliva and increased pH (more alkaline) during exercise. Saliva performs a very protective function for the teeth.  The longer the training session, the drier and more alkaline their mouths became. The more hours an athlete spent training, the greater the instances of dental erosion, tartar plaques and cavities. 4

Therefore, if you would like to get fit and lose weight, while also keeping your oral hygiene regime in good order, here are some simple steps you can follow:

  • Brush and floss twice daily
  • Use mouth wash at least twice a week
  • Schedule 2-3 check-ups with your dentist a year
  • Replace sports drinks with water or natural coconut water
  • Practice meditative deep breathing exercises. They force you to focus on breathing through your nose

If you have noticed that you have started to experience tooth pain since starting your workout, or twinges in your teeth, then we strongly advise that you contact your dentist and schedule in a check-up to avoid the problem getting worse.
Somerset Dental Care is open Monday to Friday, 9am -5:30pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 1pm.
To book an appointment, please call us on 1300 787 046, or you can fill out our online form here, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

[1] https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/how-endurance-training-can-harm-your-teeth/
[2] https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/04/23/Sports-Drinks-Rot-Your-Teeth.aspx
[3] https://www.carefreedental.com/resources/24-your-teeth/122-do-you-know-how-exercise-impacts-your-dental-health
[4] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/common-new-years-resolutions-stick/