Like any other member of your medical team, the dentists at our dental offices in Manassas, Reston, Gainesville, and Fairfax are all for exercising. There are plenty of benefits behind regularly hitting the pavement for a run, grabbing the free weights for a strength training program, or joining a gym for group classes. Whichever exercise is your go-to workout, it will increase heart rate, get the blood flowing, and will help keep your whole body healthy… including your mouth. However, when it comes to oral health and exercise, there are a few potential problems.
Before we launch into talking about a few ways exercise can damage your smile, let’s talk about all the good exercising can do. First and foremost, exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your lungs and heart in tip-top shape, and is overall really great for you. When it comes to how exercise can benefit your oral health, we look to the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) which is a long-term national health study.
Researchers found that those who exercised at a moderate intensity five days a week, or at a high intensity three days a week, were at lower risk for gum disease. This is good news for both your teeth and your whole body. Gum disease usually leads to other oral health problems such as bad breath, swollen & painful gums, and even tooth loss, and has also been linked to whole-body issues including certain cancers, heart disease, and stroke. So avoiding it is best for your overall health as well as the health of your mouth.
So obviously, exercising is good for everyone for plenty of reasons. But just like how working out too much can lead to injuries, it can also contribute to decay and an increase in cavities.
We aren’t trying to keep anyone from exercising as we believe the benefits outweigh the risks. But we do feel it’s necessary to talk about how exercising may have a negative effect on oral health so you can know what to try to avoid during your workouts.
There are two main contributors to oral health issues associated with working out. Let’s look at each one in more detail.
Sports drinks are great at helping your body recover after intense exercise. But they’re not so great for your teeth. A lot of the ingredients in sports drinks are known to cause decay and cavities. When you can, choose water during workouts or alternate sports drinks and water to limit your exposure to sugars and acidity found in most sports beverages.
When you’re doing any sort of physical activity that causes you to breathe a bit heavier, it’s common to start breathing with an open mouth. Open mouth breathing decreases saliva production, which not only makes your mouth feel uncomfortably dry, it also makes it the ideal environment for bacteria that damage teeth to thrive.
Still have questions about how exercise can affect your smile? We welcome you to call one of our dental offices in Manassas, Reston, Gainesville, or Fairfax. We’ll be happy to help.