Can getting Stronger Make WeakTeeth?
Can working out give you weak teeth, increase decay? In recent oral health news a study about the relationship between working out and subsequent tooth decay has been making all the headlines. Researchers in a German study have linked a higher incidence of gum disease and tooth decay to a correlation in extended workouts. This isn’t new news in and of itself, for decades dentist and scientist have been aware of a higher incidence of oral disease, and tooth decay in athletes. The cause was long thought to be linked solely to sugary drinks consumed in excess by the athlete pre and post workout.
While there is still a potential link between the sugar and foods consumed by an athlete the new research indicates that changes in saliva during a workout are significant enough and consistent enough that the likelihood is that the physical activity itself plays the bigger role in athletes with oral health disease. The scientist tested individual athletes before, during and after strenuous, extended workouts and found that saliva got increasingly less acidic throughout the activity. (Many popular sports drinks and sugary drinks are acidic.) Athletes also produced less saliva while working out than they did when at rest. All of these factors are thought to contribute in some way to instability in the mouth, ultimately leaving teeth and gums vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.
So should you give up your daily workout to stop the risk of weak teeth? First of all, bear in mind that physical activity reduces stress, and depression, can aid in better sleep, reduces the incidence and severity of joint pain related to arthritis, helps maintain ideal body weight, combats fatigue and is linked to a myriad of age fighting benefits, not to mention the effects of exercise to regulate and eliminate symptoms of type II diabetes.
The athletes included in the German study all had very strenuous training regimens and worked out for nine or more hours per week. For most of us, even those who are able to fit in lots of hours at the gym, or track–or wherever you find to sweat it out–there may be some simple, proactive, steps to include in your daily routine reducing the chances of a workout negatively impacting your oral health or causing tooth decay.
What Can You Do
High Intensity Workouts stress the body, leave us gasping and often breathing through the mouth. This, in addition to other factors, rapidly dry out the gingiva and leave the mouth suseptible to bacterial growth. Teeth get stickier, soft tissues get stressed and before you know it bacteria are having a party at your expense. Combat the weak teeth effect by doing these things;
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day–staying hydrated is one of the biggest factors to keeping saliva flowing and ph balanced.
- Saliva is the body’s best defense against tooth decay and gum disease.
- Get your 7 to 8 hours of sleep–inadequate sleep has been shown to be a bigger factor in gum disease, periodontal disease and tooth decay than smoking.
- A pre-workout toothbrushing--while there are not yet studies on weather or not a pre-workout brushing will remedy the incidence of tooth decay related to exercise, it can’t hurt, and getting all the bacteria and pathogens cleared out before you stress the environment is likely to be beneficial.
- Pay close attention to your diet before, during and at recovery.
- If you workout for an extended amount of time, the foods you consume to fuel and recover from your workout can still contribute to your oral health.
- Many athletes choose high-carb diets.
- Carbohydrates easily convert to sugars and this is true even of the tiny particles left behind in the mouth.
- Sugars feed the bacteria that cause erosion and tooth decay, and infect the soft-tissues in the mouth causing periodontal disease.
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Marilyn K Jones DDS
Address: 800 Bering Dr Suite 204 , Houston, TX 77057
Phone: (713) 785-7767