Exercising improves every aspect of your health, safe one: your teeth get more caries, dental erosion and other nightmares.
The Olympics: A Dental Horror Show
Last year English dentists examined 278 athletes who had participated at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The first assumption was that high-sugar sports drinks and bars are the culprits. Not so, say German researchers.
More Exercise, More Tooth Decay
Dentists at Heidelberg University Hospital recruited 35 professional triathletes and the same number of non-athletes. They tested saliva and dental health for both groups and also had them fill out a questionnaire about their eating and toothbrushing habits.
Compared with the couch potato group, the athletes showed worse erosion of tooth enamel and had more cavities.
But the tooth decay didn’t come from consuming sports drinks or other fitness supplements. Athletes had worse results no matter what they ate.
The connection much rather lay in the amount of exercise: the more time athletes spent training, the worse their tooth problems were.
Less Saliva, More Alkaline
But why? It became clear when the scientists compared the endurance athletes’ saliva before, during and after training to that of the non-athletes. Before the athletes trained, their saliva was similar to that of the non-athletes.
But during training, their mouths became increasingly drier and more alkaline. A high alkaline content can lead to more plaques and other conditions your teeth don’t appreciate.
If strength athletes could run into the same problems is unknown, but they already have unique tooth challenges of their own.
How’s Your Oral Hygiene?
This was a small study, so its results aren’t set in stone. But if you spend a lot of time exercising, regular visits to your dentist sound like even more of a good idea than for the rest of the population.
As is, of course, good oral hygiene! Brush and floss and have your teeth in the same fit shape as the rest of you!