An active lifestyle contributes to maintaining good overall health. However, did you know there is a relationship between exercise and oral health? We all want to have healthy, beautiful teeth so let’s dig into this more.
You might be a fitness enthusiast who hits the gym regularly or enjoys playing sports with friends. Perhaps you are an amateur or professional athlete with big goals. Either way, you train regularly and are passionate about fitness and sports. There are many oral health benefits to exercise. However, there are also some drawbacks. Here is an overview of how an active lifestyle can affect your oral health.
Positive Effects of Sports on Your Oral Health
Sports and fitness have multiple benefits for your teeth, including:
- Reduced risk of periodontitis. Periodontitis is an advanced gum disease, a serious oral health condition. According to research, you have 54% less chance of developing gum disease if you exercise regularly.
- A healthy diet is important. As an athlete, you probably stick to a healthy food regime, especially if you are a professional. That means you don’t consume many sodas and sweets. By keeping the sugar intake low, you also reduce the risk of tooth decay.
- Easier to keep a routine. Athletes have an exercise and diet routine, which means they are used to following them. That’s why it shouldn’t be a problem to create healthy habits. Stick to these habits of maintaining optimal dental hygiene, which contributes to oral health.
- The entire body is interconnected. Exercise contributes to your respiratory and cardiovascular health. Your body is one large system, which means everything is mutually connected. Oral health contributes to your overall health and vice versa. So, maintaining healthy physical shape could be beneficial for your dental health.
- Exercise reduces the risk of inflammation. Many studies show that only 20 minutes of exercise is enough to boost your body’s inflammatory response. It can help to lower the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and other medical conditions.
Negative Effects on Dental Health
There aren’t many directly negative effects of exercise. However, some related activities or behavior to exercise can be detrimental to oral health. Here are a few:
- Physical injury. This can occur if you play contact sports with others. Additionally if you have physical contact with others during training, you are at risk of a dental injury. The experts estimate athletes lose over five million teeth every year. Ouch! Even a single tooth loss could cause problems with biting, eating, or speaking. A high-quality mouthguard is the best protection against a potential injury.
- Dry mouth. While you are exercising, some people keep their mouths open for adequate air intake. It’s what leads to decreased saliva quantity in your mouth. Saliva is crucial to destroying bacteria, which means your protection isn’t at an optimal level during training. It could lead to accelerated tooth decay and enamel erosion over time.
- Sports drinks. The drinks you consume for energy often contain high amounts of sugar and other preservatives. These compounds stay in your mouth and could affect your oral health in the long run.
- Energy bars. These treats also contain a lot of sugar that has the potential to harm your dental health. You can discuss with a dentist to consider the best alternatives for energy bars.
Tips to Avoid Negative Effects
The best tip for any person is to visit the dentist regularly. According to experts, you should have a dental exam every six months. But if you notice signs of a tooth cavity or any other issue, schedule an appointment immediately. Always aim to solve dental problems at the earliest possible opportunity. It’s how you reduce the odds of them developing into a more serious issue.
Apart from dental checkups, there are ways to avoid the damaging fitness effects on oral health. Here is what the experts recommend to do!
Create an Oral Health Routine
Being an athlete doesn’t spare you from the importance of applying a dental health routine. That means regular brushing and flossing. The experts recommend brushing your teeth at least twice daily, with one time being before you head to sleep. Pick the brush that suits your teeth and fluoride toothpaste since it helps combat cavities and enamel erosion. You should floss your teeth at least once per day.
Wear a Mouthguard During Contact Sports
Some sports, such as hockey or basketball, carry a high risk of dental injuries. A mouthguard is an accessory that protects your teeth if someone or something hits you. You can pick from custom-made guards at the dentists or cheap ones acquired at local stores. The comfort and protection level vary, but wearing a guard could keep you safe. It can help you prevent losing teeth and other dental injuries.
Try Breathing Through Your Nose
It takes practice to start breathing through the nose during exercise. Working out requires us to breathe in a lot of oxygen, which is why we breathe through our mouths. But nose breathing can have many benefits, including improved oxygen absorption and reduced risk of dry mouth. You can try the Buteyko technique to help you control your breathing.
Some additional tips to use in order to minimize the potential negative effects:
- Remain hydrated. If you ensure optimal hydration, you might not need a sports drink to compensate for lost electrolytes. The general rule is to drink water as soon as you feel thirsty.
- Pick foods rich in phosphate and calcium. Yogurt, cheese, and milk can help revitalize teeth’ enamel and help them stay in good condition.
- Use a mouthwash. It’s possible to go with specialized versions or add mineralizing agents to strengthen the teeth’ surface.
- Use a straw when drinking anything but water. The idea is to minimize the contact that sugary drinks have with your teeth.