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Pump Up Your Oral Health With Frequent Exercise

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older man and woman exercising

Watching your form in the mirror while you work out? Flash yourself a smile while you’re there - your workout is working on your teeth too.

If this isn’t the first of my posts you’ve read, you may be noticing a pattern in the advice I share with my patients - your dental health and your overall health are closely linked. Turns out, exercise is no different; studies have found that regular exercise can lower the risk of gum disease!

Recently, you may have read about research that found that athletes are more likely to experience higher rates of dental decay and gingivitis. There are two big factors that cause this: many athletes opt for sports drinks which are high in tooth-damaging acids and the tendency to breathe through the mouth during strenuous activity.

While sports drinks offer beneficial electrolytes that support refuelling and hydration during heavy workouts, they’re akin to bathing your teeth in acid. One study from the Academy of General Dentistry found that the acidity is so high that damage can occur after only 5 days of consistent consumption! Staying hydrated is essential but we strongly recommend sticking to water–you can add lemon, ginger, or other fruits plus a pinch of unprocessed salt if you want a splash of flavours and electrolytes–or you can sip natural, additive-free coconut water for a hydrating choice that also offers anti-inflammatory properties and helps balance glucose and insulin levels.

One of the first things we tend to do when we get our heart pumping faster? We start breathing through our mouths - you’ve probably noticed that as your forehead is getting damp with perspiration, your mouth is getting drier! That’s because breathing through your mouth reduces saliva flow, dries out your mouth and leads to an environment perfect for accelerated bacteria growth. And if you’re adding acidic sports drinks to that mix - yikes! Making an effort to breathe through your nose is helpful, the Buteyko breathing method can, with training and practice, make it easier to breathe through your nose more efficiently even during exercise.

Planning on strapping on some skates or giving the local rugby league a shot? Remember that 3 million teeth are lost at sporting events annually - wear your mouthguard!

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