Why Intense Exercise May Harm Your Teeth
the MPR take:
Regular vigorous exercise is often associated with positive health outcomes such as weight loss, but it may actually increase the risk of dental caries and other oral health problems. One study published in 2013 found that a majority of the 278 athletes examined by dentists at the 2012 Olympic Games exhibited signs of poor oral health, including high levels of tooth decay in conjunction with gum disease and tooth enamel erosion. Because this study did not evaluate a possible link between consumption of sugary sports drinks and bars and oral health in athletes, a second study compared 35 competitive triathletes with age and gender-match healthy adult non-athlete controls. The triathletes had significantly greater erosion of tooth enamel and a greater number of dental caries, with the risk growing as the training time of the athletes increased. No correlation was seen between consuming sports drinks and diets with the athletes’ oral health; after the triathletes completed a workout, excess alkalinity was detected in their saliva, which is thought to contribute to the development of tartar plaques on teeth. However, the researchers warn that this study was small, short-term, and may not be generalizable to those who exercise <9 hours per week with a reduced intensity. Endurance athletes who participate in vigorous activities are advised to regularly seek dental care and consider a dentist that specializes in sports dentistry.
Vigorous exercise is good for almost all of the body — except perhaps the teeth, according to a surprising new study of athletes. There have been hints in the past that athletes could have a heightened risk for cavities and other oral issues. All of the volunteers visited the hospital's dental lab for a full oral examination, including collection of their saliva after they had been sitting quietly.
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