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Looking after your teeth whilst training!
Working out regularly in the gym or at home has its obvious benefits of losing weight and building muscle mass, whilst also lowering your risk for a whole host of medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke, arthritis and many more. It also increases your endorphin production, a hormone that helps manage stress levels. In spite of the countless benefits, it could put your teeth at risk making you more vulnerable to cavities, gum disease and injury.
Here are 3 tips to make sure we keep your teeth safe whilst training!
1. Cut the sweet sports drinks
Many people bring a sports or energy drink to the gym to replenish their nutrition and hydration during a workout, but these can actually increase your risk for cavities and gum disease. Sports drinks are quite high in sugars, which coat your teeth as you sip at them throughout your workout. The bacteria in plaque, the sticky film that can develop over your teeth, consume these sugars and produce acid in return, which decays your enamel and can bring on gingivitis (bleeding gums) if it collects beneath your gums. If your energy or sports drink is at all acidic or carbonated, this further compounds your risk for erosion and risk of sensitivity. In addition, according to recent reports, most of these beverages are not nearly as beneficial for performance or health as they claim to be. If you’re not doing a particularly strenuous or endurance-focused workout, water and a healthy diet (with plenty of calcium, magnesium, and salt) are all you need to replenish your electrolytes and keep your body functioning well.
2. Get Plenty of Water
Your saliva is your first line of defence against decay and gum disease. As well as acting as a natural mouthwash, it includes enzymes to break down debris and antibacterial compounds to fight infection. The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports conducted a study to pinpoint why athletes tend to have oral health issues. Quartz magazine reported on the research, noting that the triathlete participants who trained the most had a higher risk for cavities, likely due to the fact that they “produced less saliva overall” while working out and “had a significantly higher pH” (meaning it was more alkaline) for their spit during activity. While your trip to the gym probably isn’t at quite the intensity level of a triathlon training program, making sure to stay hydrated can help increase saliva flow and help your mouth protect itself!
3. Wear Protective Gear
You likely have sportswear for the rest of your body, but what about your teeth? Especially if you’re new to gym equipment, trying out a new exercise class, or playing a contact sport, it’s important to wear a mouth guard, a plastic device that covers and protects your teeth from potential injury. Trauma to the teeth can be painful and could cause more complicated conditions like an infected pulp (which would require root canal therapy). Cracks or fractures also increase your risk for cavity and gum disease by creating small pockets where bacteria can thrive.
A dentist (like myself) can create a custom-made mouth guard for you to precisely, comfortable cover your teeth and gums. Of course, if you do sustain a dental sports injury, we can help you repair your smile and get back to the gym in no time!
Dr H. Ahmed BChD MJDF (RCS)