We’re just about a week into 2016, and statistics show that about a quarter of us have already given up on those new year’s resolutions we were so adamant about only a few days ago. If you’re one of the 75 percent who’s still hanging in there the odds are good your resolution involves getting up and moving a bit more than you did in 2015.
It might be surprising to learn that increased athletic activity can actually be harmful to your teeth. It might not seem obvious at first, but the truth of the matter is fairly obvious once you get down to it. While your risk of damaged teeth increases with more exercise that doesn’t mean it has to. There are plenty of ways to keep that new year’s resolution and keep a healthy set of teeth too!
What’s Eating Your Teeth?
Worried that you might be at risk for a destroyed smile in exchange for those chiseled abs? It’s a very real risk and it might have you reconsidering that ambitious fitness calendar hanging on the fridge. Don’t give up! All it takes is knowing what the risks are and how to defeat them.
A recent study in the British Journal Of Sports Medicine compared the pH levels of saliva in athletes and non-athletes to find a reason for the oral health discrepancies between the two groups. The study found that while resting there wasn’t much difference between the two, but when athletes were exercising their saliva became far more alkaline.
It might seem counterintuitive to think of an alkaline level of saliva contributing to decay – after all, it’s acid that ruins your teeth, right? While that is true there’s a lot more than just acid that contributes to tooth decay.
Your saliva contains proteins that contribute to your decay resistance levels. When that saliva protein interacts with highly alkaline substances, like workout and post-workout saliva, scientists believe that it becomes less effective at fighting decay acids. You also generate less saliva while working out, which puts you at twice the risk.
With less saliva to keep your mouth healthy and a block on the effectiveness of decay-fighting proteins you’re left with a mouth that simply can’t fight off bacteria and acids. The more exercise logged per week the higher your risks of cavities!
Fighting Decay While Getting In Shape
If you want to keep that new year’s resolution and still have a great smile to show for it then there are things you have to do to be extra vigilant. Exercise doesn’t have to ruin your teeth, especially if you follow these tips.
Stay hydrated by always drinking water while you’re exercising. Keep a bottle handy and be sure to drink if you feel like you need it. It’s best to drink small sips of water continually during your workout and not a big gulp all at once. That will keep you hydrated without causing cramps or a stitch.
Avoid sugary drinks before and after exercise. The same goes for highly acidic beverages, which can erode your teeth just as badly as sugary ones. Sports drinks, energy drinks, and even juice can all spell trouble for a body that’s cooling down after a workout. Do yourself a favor and just stick to water.
Brush your teeth before you exercise. If a change in your saliva pH is unavoidable then you should do your mouth a favor and brush before you work out. Brushing removes bacteria, acids, and any food particles that might be left over to cause trouble.
Make sure you’re seeing us every six months for a checkup. Regular dental care is an important part of keeping your teeth healthy. A certain degree of damage to your teeth, whether you exercise or not, is almost guaranteed. By getting a cleaning and exam twice a year we can identify problems and treat them before they have a chance to become serious.
Keep Your Resolution And Your Smile: The Results Are Worth It!
Don’t be put off by worry for your teeth. We want to do whatever we can to help you have a successful resolution in 2016. If you have questions about your oral health or just want to schedule an exam to get you back on track with good oral health call Northwest Dental Group today!