You’re probably confused by the title of this article and wondering what fitness has to do with dental health. Indeed, you already know that fitness, to many people, means physical exercise that leads to a healthier body and mind, but how does it affect dental health? Well, the good news is that your questions are about to be answered. This article will discuss everything you should know about the connection between sports and fitness on your dental health. So, please ensure to read to the end.
According to dental experts from the Great Hill Dental in Boston, there are both negative and positive effects of exercise on oral hygiene. It is also believed that dental health and diet play a huge role in determining what the effects will be for you.
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How do Sports and Exercise Contribute to Dental Health?
The well-known cause of cavities and most other dental issues is eating sugary substances or consuming sugary drinks. However, it has also been established that exercise can contribute to the onset of dental/oral health issues, especially when adequate precautionary and safety procedures are not followed. The following are ways exercise contributes negatively to oral health.
Yes, that’s right. People who visit the gym a lot lose a lot of calories while working out. They also often consume many sports drinks and other carbonated drinks to regain lost calories. Obviously, these drinks contain loads of sugar. Other components, such as ingredients used as preservatives, also include sugar.
These sugary substances remain in the mouth and can be a substrate to aid bacteria growth, leading to infections or accumulation of these harmful substances in the mouth. Moreover, the pH levels of these drinks are relatively low, which is an indicator of acidity. Thus, the high acidic content can lead to erosion and eventual tooth decay.
Exercise is a vigorous activity that could lead to faster breathing since your body needs all that oxygen. In a bid to breathe more, people who love to exercise open their mouths. When the mouth is open, air enters the mouth and tends to dry up saliva, reducing its content in the mouth.
This can be detrimental because saliva is needed to neutralize harmful bacteria. Therefore, the less saliva there’s is in the mouth, the more likely harmful bacteria will thrive and cause deleterious effects on the teeth and gums. In essence, breathing through your mouth during exercise can cause your saliva to dry up. In turn, this can lead to some negative issues for your oral health.
Risk of injury
Injury during physical activity is more common than you think. If there’s an accident or a direct blow to the mouth, the person involved can lose one or more teeth, injure the surrounding tissues such as the gums or even cause injury to the tongue. It doesn’t end there. A change in the alignment of the teeth due to loss of teeth or a shift can cause difficulties in speaking or chewing. Temporomandibular joint disorders may also arise from such injuries.
This means that exercise can increase your exposure to the risk of mouth injuries, leading to other severe dental issues.
The Positive Effects of Exercise on Dental Health
Having considered some negative impacts of exercise on dental health and wellness, let’s also look at some of the positive effects. They include:
Lowered risk of gum disease
A study published in 2005 shows the relationship between gum disease and physical activities. According to the study, those who exercise and don’t smoke have a lower risk of periodontal disease than people who live sedentary lifestyles or smoke cigarettes. This means that regular exercises can keep your teeth safe from such diseases.
Appropriate Body Mass Index(BMI)
BMI is an indicator of healthy weight. It has also been discovered that people who exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight through adequate exercise and dietary adjustments are 40% less likely to develop gum disease or other oral health issues.
Dental protective measures for physically active people
There are basic preventive and protective measures that you can take to prevent dental issues and protect the teeth, especially as an exercise enthusiast. They include,
Use of mouthguard
A mouthguard is used to protect the mouth and teeth from unforeseen injuries. People who engage in sports like boxing should always wear this to prevent injuries.
Drink water instead
A reasonable alternative to sports drinks is water. As soon as you need to drink something, opt for water since it doesn’t contain sugary substances that could harm your teeth. Coconut water is also a good alternative since it’s also pretty low in sugar.
Practice breathing through your nose during exercise
If you’ve noticed you breathe through your mouth during exercise, there are different breathing methods and techniques designed to help you breathe through your nose, such as the Buteyko breathing method.
Importance of regular visits to the dentist
The importance of regular dental examinations cannot be overemphasized. To win the fight against tooth decay, you don’t want to skip any appointments with the dentist. This is especially true for the fitness enthusiast or people who work out regularly, as you might not realize you have a problem until you see your dentist. It is also advisable to see the dentist before training to get advice on additional measures you can take to protect your dental health.
In conclusion, fitness has both positive and negative impacts on dental health, and they have been discussed in this article. To avoid the negatives, follow the protective measures stated in this article and never skip appointments with the dentist.