We all know that exercise is good for our bodies. It’s good for our lungs, strengthens muscles, can prevent heart disease, stroke and obesity. It improves our moods and builds endurance. Exercise can also be good for your teeth! There are proven links between how fit we are and our oral health. Dr. Joy Lunan is a #completehealthdentist and encourages her patients to look at their overall health as well as their oral health.
According to the Third National Health and Nutrition Exam Survey, people who exercise moderately 5 times a week or at a higher intesity 3 times each week were found to be at a lower risk for gum disease. This is good news for our whole body since the effects of gum disease can cause many problems such as bad breath, swollen gums, tooth loss, certain cancers, heart disease and stroke.
A study that was published in The Journal of Periodontology from the University of Florida, looked at the BMI (body mass index) and maximum oxygen consumption of people to find out how fit they were. The participant’s oral health was also assessed and it was discovered that those with a healthier weight and exercised were much less prone to gum disease.
However, there are some concerns when it comes to oral health and exercise. Athletes who train frequently have higher instances of tooth decay, according to the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. Dr. Joy Lunan certainly does not discourage anyone from exercise, but would like to share the reasons why. There are basically two reasons why an athlete may be more suscepticle to tooth decay.
Sports Drinks / Carbohydrates ~ Athletes tend to consume a higher amount of carbohydrates to keep energy levels up while training. Carbohydrates break down into sugars, therefore, energy products can turn out to be just as harmful to our teeth as eating candy or cookies. Carbs lower the pH in our mouths below the critical mark of 5.5, which is when demineralization of teeth may begin. If you eat or drink after a workout be sure to have a bottle of water nearby. Not only will this keep you hydrated, swishing it around in your mouth can dilute any acids and sugars from your food. Brush as soon as you can after a workout and try not to exercise with food particles still in your mouth.
Heavy Mouth Breathing ~ When athletes exert a lot of energy they tend to breathe through their mouths to take in more air. Unfortunately this can contribute to tooth decay. Heavier breathing will reduce your saliva production and make the mouth dry. A dry mouth is the perfect place for bacteria to thrive and cause decay. Dr. Lunan reminds you to keep your mouth moist. Always drink before, during and after a workout. If you can, try breathing through your nose during less strenuous exercise.
If you’ve noticed that exercise has been having an effect on your oral health please call Dr. Lunan’s dental office in Middlebury, CT. Dr. Lunan would be more than happy to talk with you about your concerns and work with you to find the best solutions. 203-598-7920