Regular exercise is absolutely necessary for good physical and mental health, but doing it incorrectly can have serious consequences. You might currently be worrying about pulling a muscle, wrenching your back, or dropping a weight on your foot when you go to the gym, but working out comes with some risks to your teeth as well. Here are a few ways exercise can harm your teeth and how to work out with minimal risk to your oral health.
Jaw-Clenching and Teeth Grinding
Many people clench their jaws or grind their teeth as a response to stress, and working out can be a stressful experience. If you’re regularly engaging in strenuous exercise, these habits can do a lot of damage over time. Clenching and grinding can lead to teeth developing chips, holes, or fractures that require repairs from a dentist. The frequent strain of clenching your jaw can even cause TMJ issues, leading to headaches, difficulty eating, and other complications. Thankfully, an athletic mouthguard can protect your teeth from most of the damage if you’re having a hard time breaking these habits.
Sports Drinks Can Contain a Lot of Sugar and Acid
Sports drinks were formulated to replace what an athlete loses during intense exercise such as water, carbohydrates, electrolytes, and potassium. While these beverages can give you the hydration and energy you need to plow on further, they also contain sugar and acid that can cause serious damage to your teeth. In fact, enamel can show signs of erosion after only five days of consistently consuming sports drinks. To mitigate damage from sports drinks, use a straw or chase every sip with a swig of water. To avoid the problem completely, just drink water instead.
People often begin breathing through their mouths during intense exercise. While this can increase oxygen intake, it also dries up the saliva in your mouth. Consistent saliva flow plays a key role in your mouth’s natural cleaning process by washing away food debris and residue while keeping the teeth lubricated for when they make contact with one another. When you’re drinking highly acidic sports drinks without adequate saliva flow, your teeth can be covered with corrosive residue for an extended period. To address these issues, practice breathing through your nose while drinking plenty of water.
Your whole body, including your teeth, deserves the best care you can give it. Your regular workout is as important to your overall health as your oral hygiene routine, and taking care of your teeth during strenuous exercise can help you get the best results out of both of them.
About the Author
Dr. Donna Franklin-Pitts earned her dental doctorate from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She is a proud member of the American Dental Association, the Smith County Dental Society, the East Texas Dental Society, the Texas Dental Association, and the Smith County American Red Cross. Areas of expertise include preventive, pediatric, restorative, cosmetic, and emergency dentistry. For more information on taking care of your teeth while exercising, contact her office in Tyler, TX online or dial (903) 730-6314.