Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. That said, if you’re an athlete, you might need to be a bit more cautious about your oral health than most. Why is this the case? Here are a few reasons why athletes are particularly susceptible to oral health issues.
1. Athletes are more prone to injury.
It is no surprise that athletes are more likely to cause trauma to their teeth than most, particularly those who participate in contact sports. By always wearing a mouth guard, athletes can protect themselves from chipping or even losing a tooth. If you experience an injury to your teeth, gums, or jaw, make sure you visit your dentist straight away.
2. Athletes are more susceptible to dry mouth.
Saliva serves a critical purpose for maintaining your oral health. For starters, it helps to neutralize the acids in your mouth and fortify your dental enamel against decay. It also washes away bacteria and debris that can cause decay, gingivitis, and halitosis (bad breath). When athletes routinely breathe through their mouth during sports, it can cause dry mouth, characterized by a lack of saliva to perform these important tasks. To combat these effects of dry mouth on your oral health, be sure to drink plenty of water and be diligent about your dental hygiene routine.
3. Athletes are often exposed to sugary substances that cause decay.
Sports drinks, workout supplements, and energy gels are all high in sugar content. When you use these substances during your workout, the bacteria on your teeth feed on these sugars to create acids, which ultimately corrode your dental enamel. After too many of these “acid attacks” on your enamel, you could possibly suffer from cavities as well as gingivitis, an infection of the gums. Therefore, we recommend that you hydrate with water. Water contains fluoride that actually fortifies your teeth against decay and can combat the effects of dry mouth.
4. Stress can impact your oral health.
Many athletes experience pre-competition anxiety, which can have a surprising effect on your oral health. For starters, if you have a tendency to vomit as a result of this stress, the acids can corrode your dental enamel and cause decay. Secondly, stress can cause you to unwittingly clench and grind your teeth. This condition, known as bruxism, can break down your dental enamel and even cause TMJ issues. If you suffer from either of these issues, be sure to visit your dentist to discuss possible solutions and receive preventative care.
5. High carb diets can corrode your teeth.
If you’re an athlete, then you’re likely familiar with the pre-competition pasta dinner. Athletes tend to eat high-carb meals to prep for upcoming tournaments or races. However, carbohydrates can actually be just as harmful to your teeth as candy! When you eat starchy foods, they can break down into simple sugars, which lead to decay. Be careful to limit your intake of high-carb meals and always brush your teeth after you eat!
If you’re an athlete, it is important that you always take good care of your oral health—just like you take care of your physical fitness. This includes always wearing your protective gear, eating the right foods, maintaining a solid dental hygiene routine, and visiting your dentist every six months.
To schedule your next appointment, call Downtown Dental in River North or the Loop today!