What Is actually bad for your teeth – physical exercises or sports drinks and sugar?
Physicians and health researchers typically recommend that adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day for at least five days per week. These recommendations are designed for overall physical fitness, reducing the risk of obesity and promoting heart health. You might be surprised to discover that physical exercises can not only be beneficial and even relieve pain but they could actually be harmful to your dental health.
How Physical Exercises Affect Your Teeth
When playing sports, the intensity of the activity often leads a person to breathe with his or her mouth instead of through the nose. Athletes also sweat a lot, especially during intense or long training sessions. Mouth breathing is associated with a decrease in saliva. Low saliva levels increase the acidity in the mouth. This lack of saliva promotes dental cavities and erosion of tooth enamel. When the tooth enamel is eroded, it is easier for cavities to develop and spread into the tooth’s roots.
Clinical Studies of the Oral Health of Athletes
Several clinical studies of athletes and dental health have been performed, and the results are striking. In a study of 35 tri athletes and 35 non-exercising controls, athletes had significant dental erosion. When the researchers looked at how much time the athletes were spending training each week, the risk of cavities went up as the amount of time spent training went up. The amount of saliva produced by athletes decreased with increased training time.
The Impact of Intense Exercise and Athletic Training on Oral Health
Intense exercise carries an increased risk of periodontal disease. Periodontal diseases are those that affect the gum tissue. In a study of 187 moderate to intense athletes, 5 percent had moderate to severe periodontal diseases. Gum disease puts a person at risk of increased pain and sensitivity, a shifting bite and tooth loss. Even when athletes had regular dental checkups, their dental health decreased as they got older. Some of their symptoms included:
- Back pain in molars
- Receded gums
- Increased sensitivity
- Decreased athletic performance
- Reduced quality of life
- Referred pain from toothaches, including back pain and headaches
How Sports Drinks and Nutritional Products Could Affect Your Teeth
Athletes are frequently warned of the risks of dehydration. When you exercise for a long time or at a high intensity level, you may lose a lot of water through sweating and heavy breathing. Your body also loses potassium and sodium, which are needed for a regular heart rhythm. To avoid dehydration, many athletes and weekend warriors turn to sports drinks. These drinks prevent dehydration, but they are often loaded with sugar. The sugary drinks promote cavities. Sticky and sugary energy bars marketed to athletes also increase your risk of cavities.
Preventive Dental Care for Athletes
Few athletes stop physical exercises in the middle of a training session to go brush their teeth. Preventive dental care is a must for athletes. More frequent cleanings and fluoride treatments may be needed. Staying hydrated with water or sugar-free electrolyte drinks may also help athletes to avoid oral health problems.
Schedule an appointment with one of our dental specialists and may you never have these troubles again!