You go for a run three times a week, make it to spin class twice a week, and even squeeze in a kickboxing class on the weekend; so, you think you’re doing pretty good when it comes to being healthy. Well, all that exercise might be doing the rest of your body good, but how can it affect your dental health?
Before we dive deeper, let’s make something clear: it is absolutely important to be physically active and incorporate some form of exercise in your everyday life! When combined with a daily oral health care routine and regular visits to the dentist, there should be no reason for your smile to be affected by exercise.
However, if you aren’t regularly brushing, flossing, and getting professionally examined, you may want to keep reading. A 2013 study examined the connection between vigorous activity and heavy training regimens and poor oral health. The study, which was published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at athletes from the 2012 Summer Olympics. They found high levels of decay, gum disease, and enamel erosion. Researchers were unsure of the cause; some linked it to sugary sports drinks, but a study done in Germany aimed to prove the exact cause.
The University Hospital Heidelberg in Germany ran a test using athletes and non-athletes of the same age and gender to determine the difference in oral health. The culprit? Saliva production.
As the athletes worked out, the amount of saliva in their mouths lessened and became drier. The lack of saliva meant that the harmful bacteria in their mouths didn’t get washed away, but instead was thriving and causing teeth decay.
However, before you give up your gym membership, know that the study found that this mostly applies to those who are hardcore athletes or those doing endurance training, such as marathons. The average person won’t put their oral health at risk when hitting the elliptical or going to a spin class.
If you frequently hit the gym, proper hydration throughout a workout session can decrease the risk of prolonged dry mouth. If you are an endurance runner or athlete, talk to your dentist about how you can keep your oral health in good shape while training.