If you run marathons, participate in triathlons, or take part in any other kind of endurance sport, then chances are you have good health. Regular exercise keeps the body strong, toned, and more resistant to disease. However, despite the healthy body they have, it has been found that the dental health of endurance athletes isn’t so great.
Why would someone so healthy have poor dental health? The answer is dry mouth. Endurance athletes breathe through their mouth for long periods of time, causing it to dry out. This problem increases the risk for tooth decay because of a reduced saliva flow. Saliva washes away food debris, brings in minerals that rebuild tooth enamel, and neutralizes the acids which eat away at teeth. Without enough saliva, acids have free reign in eroding tooth enamel.
Another risk factor for tooth decay in endurance athletes is the amount of sports drinks they take in. These drinks are full of sugar, which plaque bacteria process to create acids that erode enamel. Sports drinks also have their own acidic agents, which further aid tooth decay.
How can endurance athletes prevent cavities from developing in their mouth? Well they can:
- Brush and floss daily
- See their dentist regularly
- Find an alternative to sports drinks
- Breathe through the nose
- Drink plenty of water
Endurance athletes can have great, all-around health if they take care of their teeth.