We know that exercise is very important for both our mental and physical health. However, have you thought about the effects of running on your oral health? While those two things may seem unrelated, they’re actually not. Fear not. Dr. Eric Wu at Redwood Shores Orthodontics will explain the correlation between running and oral health.
Oral Health and Running
While the rest of your body may be in great shape, each extra training hour actually increases your risk of tooth decay. Athletes are at risk for two specific oral health problems: dry mouth effects and sports-related nutrition effects.
- 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 would otherwise.
Dry mouth creates a danger zone for your teeth. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 30% of all tooth decay in older adults is caused by dry mouth. Saliva is required to help to wash away food debris and reduce plaque – reducing your risk for gum disease and tooth decay.
- Sports-Related Nutrition Effects – Think about the things you might be consuming as a runner. Acidic sports drinks, energy gels or gummies, and energy bars 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 for your teeth.
Maintaining Oral Health for Runners
It is important to keep in mind that these factors do NOT mean that you should stop running. Instead, think about adopting new habits to help you protect your teeth:
- Drinks lots of water (not energy drinks)
- Brush your teeth before and after workouts
- If you’re consuming gels, mix in carrots or celery which help scrub away debris from the teeth.
Whether you have braces or clear aligners, it is important for any runner to pay special attention to their oral health. For questions or concerns about the effects of running during orthodontic treatment, contact our office. Your smile is our priority.