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Dental Health and Exercise: The Correlation between the Two

Exercise is a great way to stay in shape. Not only is it good for your health and well-being, but it can help you stay young and agile as well. However, what you don’t know is that exercise can impact your dental health as well. Without exercise, your body wouldn’t be able to function and stay healthy. Exercise also helps alleviate stress and build muscle. But, that doesn’t mean that it is all good according to some. Sure, going to the gym can be a pain and then there is the risk of joint damage, but this goes beyond that. It goes to the point that exercise could negatively affect your dental health.


The Negative Correlation between Exercise and Dental Health

Individuals who do a lot of heavy training and exercise frequently generally are in good health. While vigorous exercise is good for your body, it might not be so good for your teeth. According to researchers, heavy training can actually cause a number of dental problems without your even knowing it. Elite athletes are more prone to cavities and dental erosions. The study indicated that changes in your saliva parameters bring about the need for preventive dental concepts.

Researchers from various institutions and the University Hospital Heidelberg recruited a group of 35 triathletes and another 35 gender and age-matched non-athletes who were still in good health. Each one of the volunteers was required to fill out a questionnaire relating to their diets, exercise habits, and general hygiene routine. All of the volunteers had to come into the lab for a full examination. They also collected saliva several times from 15 athletes after doing a 35-minute strenuous run.

After the researchers compared the saliva and teeth from the different groups, they found quite a few interesting results. When the results were evaluated against the control group, the researchers found that the athletes had a lot more erosion on their tooth enamel. As training time increased, athletes had even more cavities. More hours of training and exercise meant there was an increased chance of developing cavities.


Common Causes of Cavities in Athletes


Sports Drinks

Oftentimes, athletes will rehydrate themselves with a sports drink. While the electrolytes found in sports drinks are good for refueling your body and staying hydrated, they can affect your teeth. There is such a large amount of acid in these drinks that it only takes five days for the damage to start occurring when consumed consistently.


Open Mouth Breathing

During intense bouts of exercise, people often end up breathing heavily with their mouth open. This, in fact, can dry out your mouth and reduce the total amount of saliva, thus creating an environment for the bacteria to grow and thrive. When you add sports drinks into the equation, the combination is only going to make matters worse.


Helping Exercise Positively Impact Your Dental Health

There are things that you can do to make a positive impact on your dental health when exercising. Instead of drinking sports drinks, go for water or even coconut water instead. They are better for your teeth and work just as well to hydrate your body. Practice nose breathing over mouth breathing. In making the small changes above, you can save your teeth and stay in shape all at the same time.

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