Happy 2016 from all of us at 7 O’Clock Dental! We hope your holiday season was great, and we hope you’re ready for an exciting new year. If you’re like a lot of our patients you’re probably waking up today wondering about your new year’s resolution – have you made one yet?
Those resolutions can be hard to stick to, but don’t give up! Being successful at anything takes a lot of willpower, and the same goes for a resolution. Many of our patients tell us they’re going to try a new fitness routine, and when they say that we always warn them of one thing: they need to be especially aware of their oral health if they plan on getting in shape!
It sounds like a pretty unlikely connection, doesn’t it? Your teeth can actually be affected by exercise. Unfortunately it’s entirely true, and not in a good way. Studies performed on athletes and those who don’t exercise regularly actually showed a remarkable difference in the rates of tooth decay. So much, in fact, that we feel the need to warn you even if you’re just starting a workout program at home. It doesn’t take much to make a difference!
What Exercise Can Do To Your Teeth
Do you know just how important saliva is to the health of your mouth? It’s a critical part of protecting your teeth from harm by washing away bacteria, food particles, and acids created by the interaction of those two. The acids are what cause cavities, and saliva is your body’s natural defense against it.
It’s been known for some time that athletes have worse teeth than the average joe, but the “why” of the issue wasn’t really known until recently: exercise actually changes the chemical makeup of your saliva, and also results in less production!
The chemical change in your saliva doesn’t cause tooth decay, but what it does to your mouth helps speed it along. Your saliva is aided in fighting cavities by proteins that help neutralize acids. When you exercise your saliva actually changes in a way that prevents those proteins from doing their jobs! The more you exercise the worse it gets – professional athletes and those who exercise heavily every day are putting themselves at considerable risk.
Dehydration doesn’t help either. You use up a lot of your body’s water when you exercise, which also means you’re producing a lot less saliva. Have you ever been exercising and suddenly realized your mouth is dry? That dryness creates the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive!
Add to that one more factor: what are you drinking while working out? A lot of people like to reach for sports drinks – bad idea. They might be thirst-quenching, but they’re also loaded with sugar. Combine that with a mouth unable to efficiently fight cavities and you’re just piling on the risk factors.
Preventing Dental Harm
Don’t let what we’ve told you scare you away from a successful new year’s resolution – that’s not our goal at all! All the oral health risks associated with exercise don’t need to be the case. In fact, it’s not too hard to prevent these kinds of problems with good planning and discipline – just like that exercise resolution.
If you’re committing to a new year of physical changes you may as well just include dental care in your routine. If you want to prevent the increased risks of cavities these are a few ways you can get in shape and save your smile at the same time.
- Brush twice a day and always floss in the evening. No one likes to floss, but it’s an essential part of good oral health. For an extra boost consider brushing before you work out. If your mouth is going to have a harder time fighting cavities why not give it an easier starting point?
- Avoid sports drinks!There’s really no reason to drink anything other than water when you exercise. The electrolyte replenishing component of sports drinks is only effective if you’ve been working out for more than an hour, and we mean going hard that whole time. Professional athletes can get an edge from it but it won’t help you over the course of your half hour workout.
- Schedule regular dental appointments at our New Orleans office. Six month checkups are an important part of maintaining your oral health – we’ll be able to spot and treat problems before they become serious!
Don’t Wait: Call Today!
Start your resolution off on the right foot with a call to 7 O’Clock Dental today. You can reach us at 504-266-0664 or you can request an appointment by filling out our online form. We look forward to seeing you soon!