We know that exercise is very important for both our mental and physical health. However, have you ever thought about the toll your running habit could be taking on your oral health? While those two things may seem unrelated, they’re actually not. Read on for some advice about the correlation between running and oral health from Dr. Dennis Flanagan at Dennis J. Flanagan DDS MS.
While the rest of your body may be in great shape, with each extra training hour, your risk of tooth decay actually increases. Additionally, there are two very specific oral health problems that athletes are at risk for: dry mouth effects and sports-related nutrition effects.
- Dry Mouth Effects – When you’re on a run you’re likely breathing heavily through your mouth. This makes your mouth as dry as a desert. Due to the potential for dehydration (at some level), you don’t recover from dry mouth as quickly as you otherwise would. Dry mouth creates a danger zone for your teeth.
- Sports-Related Nutrition Effects – Think about the things you might be consuming as a runner, such as: acidic sports drinks (some which are loaded with sugar), energy gels or gummies, and energy bars (also often containing lots of sugar). These substances inside a dry mouth along with the fact they will sit on your teeth for a while, creates a toxic environment from your teeth.
However, these factors do NOT mean that you should stop running. Instead, think about adopting some of these habits which will help you protect your teeth: drink lots of water (not energy drinks), brush your teeth before and after workouts, and if you’re consuming gels, mix in carrots or celery which act as scrubber foods. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your running and your oral health, contact our office and we’ll be happy to help!