Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, as it helps to improve fitness, burn calories, and strengthen muscles and bones. However, a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports showed that athletes have a higher risk than non-exercisers of developing dental cavities. Here are some factors that could contribute to this worrying trend.
Exercises Dries the Mouth
During the study into endurance training on dental erosion, researchers found that athletes' saliva flow rates decreased during exercise. Saliva performs an important role in the mouth, washing food particles and harmful bacteria away from the teeth and neutralising the acids that bacteria produce. A dry mouth can lead to tooth decay, which may explain why athletes have higher rates of dental cavities than people who do not exercise.
To avoid exercise drying out your mouth, sip water during your long run or training session. Water keeps the tissues inside the mouth moist and may also help to wash away traces of food of bacteria.
Sports Drinks Contain Sugar and Acids
Many athletes rely on sports drinks to rehydrate their bodies after a hard workout, but research suggests these drinks could be terrible for teeth. Researchers at New York University College of Dentistry studied the effects of top brands of sports drinks on teeth and found they weakened enamel even more than soda.
Sports drinks contain high levels of sugar to replace the energy that athletes use up during a long training session. This sugar feeds the bacteria that are responsible for tooth decay, causing them to multiply. However, sugar is not the only source of the damage. Sports drinks are also highly acidic. The acids contained in these drinks soften enamel, leaving teeth vulnerable to decay.
To reduce the effects of sports drinks on teeth, dentists recommend drinking them through a straw to minimise their contact with the teeth. You can also reduce your risk by drinking the whole sports drink in one go, rather than sipping it slowly over a period of time. Follow up with a glass of water to flush the sugars and acids away from your teeth.
Should You Stop Exercising?
Despite the risks of exercise for dental health, it is probably not a good idea to give up working out. As long as you drink plenty of water, use sports drinks in moderation, and see your dentist for regular check ups, you can safely enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle without destroying your teeth.