Here we are in 2016: there’s a whole year ahead of us to get all kinds of great stuff accomplished! If you’re like a lot of Americans you may have made a new year’s resolution that includes physical fitness. It’s a lofty goal but if you stick with it we’re sure you can be exactly where you want to be in just a few month’s time!
There is something important to consider when increasing your level of exercise, however, and it’s the health of your teeth. Study after study has shown that exercise can actually damage your teeth and increase your risk for cavities! It’s not an absolute guarantee, and that’s where our team at Panama City Smiles comes in: we want to help you understand the risks so you can save your smile!
Fitness And Your Teeth: The Surprising Risk
It just makes sense to think about physical fitness as a whole body improvement, doesn’t it? If you start exercising surely the rest of your body will fall in line, giving you more energy, more confidence, and a better quality of life. But what about your teeth? How could things get worse for them if the rest of your body is in better shape?
The answer is surprising: it all has to do with the change in the pH of your saliva during a workout. Studies have found that athletes actually have saliva that is far more alkaline during exercise. Now that doesn’t seem to harmful either, does it? After all, it’s acids that harm your teeth, not alkaline substances!
The change in your saliva’s pH is actually just the surface of the problem. The higher alkalinity of saliva during exercise actually interrupts the function of proteins in your mouth that help fight off tooth decay and oral bacteria. Studies performed on athletes strongly support this link: the more a person exercises the worse off their teeth are!
The problem is made worse by the lower saliva production that occurs during exercise as well. It’s just a simple fact that you use a lot of water when you work out, and that means you become more dehydrated. Many people drink sports drinks during games or other activities, which only make things even worse: they contain a lot of sugar!
How Can You Get In Shape And Keep Your Smile?
All those assaults on your teeth from alkaline saliva, dehydration, sports drinks, and acids combine for a tough attack, but it doesn’t have to be a guaranteed way to oral health failure. There are some simple steps you can follow to help keep your teeth in tip-top shape along with your body.
- Make sure you’re brushing your teeth twice a day, and be doubly sure you’re doing it before your workout. Since your mouth’s ability to fight acid and bacteria is reduced during exercise it takes a little extra effort to give it the boost it needs.
- Flossing daily is essential. Plaque bacteria, food particles, and acids like to hide in spots your brush can’t reach, especially between teeth. Do yourself a favor and be sure to get in between each one nightly.
- Since you’re going through so much water when exercising it’s important to stay hydrated. Don’t drink sports drinks or other sugary stuff – stick to water before, during, and after a workout. You don’t really need anything besides that!
The Most Important Tip
All the at-home preventive care in the world can’t beat your need for professional dental care. We’re not trying to get you in the door here – it’s an essential part of keeping your mouth healthy for the long term! Regular six month dental cleanings are a fundamental part of good oral hygiene, so don’t neglect them. We can use those twice a year appointments to find problems with your teeth, identify trouble spots, and propose treatments before things get serious.
Keeping yourself healthy starts at home, but it continues at our Panama City dentist office. We want to help you have a healthy smile and a healthy body, so don’t dive into that new year’s resolution without a checkup!
You can reach Panama City Smiles by calling (850) 588-0185 or you can request an appointment by filling out our online form. We look forward to seeing you soon!