Why Runners Need to Pay Special Attention to Their Oral Health

Exercise is a vital part of living a healthy lifestyle. Running is a great way to improve cardiovascular endurance, and is a cost effective form of exercise as it can be done outside almost anywhere. However, you probably don’t think about how running can affect your oral health, as the two may seem unrelated. In fact, running can actually have a big impact on your oral health. Keep reading for some advice about the correlation between running and oral health from Dr. Chris Teeters, Dr. Randy Womack, and Dr. Larry Davis at Affiliated Orthodontics.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

These things do not mean you should stop running. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to maybe assess and change some habits in order to better protect your teeth. You can do this by drinking lots of water (not energy drinks), brushing 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!

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