Listen Up Runners! Here’s Why You Need to Pay Attention to Your Oral Health

Exercise has numerous benefits for both our physical and mental health, and is a crucial part of living a healthy lifestyle. Running has become a popular form of exercise for improving cardiovascular endurance and being a form of exercise that doesn’t require a gym. However, did you know that running can actually affect your oral health? Even though the two seem unrelated, there is some correlation. Continue reading for some advice about the correlation between running and oral health from Dr. Amir Davoody, Dr. Rana Mehr, Dr. Thomais Ioannou, and Dr. Panagiotis Kyteas at Greater Houston 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.

Despite these things, running is still an excellent form of exercise that you should continue to engage in. However, use this information as a way to deliver some healthier habits that will 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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