Exercise and Oral Health
Exercise has long been recognized as one of the most important ways to keep your entire body healthy and fit. However, over the last several years, researchers have found evidence that exercise can actually lead to poorer oral health, so we wanted to be sure our Weston area dental patients were provided with the latest information on this topic.
How do researchers know that exercise can hurt oral health?
An initial survey of Olympic athletes showed that their oral health was significantly poorer than those of ordinary people. In order to further study this, a recent study was conducted at a dental school in Germany. A group of highly active athletes were compared against a group of healthy non-athletes. Researchers then examined their lifestyles, and took measurements before, during, and after exercise. Although researchers had initially suspected that athletes might consume more sugary sports bars and drinks, the athletes’ diet could not account for their poor oral health. Instead, researchers noticed the longer an athlete exercised, the more cavities they were likely to have.
How can exercising more lead to cavities?
Researchers found that during exercise, the mouth becomes drier as it produces less saliva. The saliva that was produced also became more basic (the opposite of acidic). A moist mouth with balanced saliva is important to protect enamel and prevent bacterial growth, leading to the athletes developing much more tartar and plaque. The longer an athlete exercised, the drier and more alkaline their mouth became, even if they drank often.
How can I exercise and still have good Oral Health?
In both cases, the athletes selected trained frequently and for long period of time. Since the effect of exercising gets worse over longer periods, higher intensity but shorter workout should not affect the mouth nearly as much. Additionally, exercising in several shorter periods rather than in fewer, longer sessions could also prevent tooth decay. We are telling our Weston area dental patients that if you are a serious exerciser, it is more important than ever to brush and floss regularly and come to our dental office frequently for checkups.