For everyone who cares about their smile, today’s guest article by Dr. Yasir Issa D.D.S is a must read!
We’ve all seen the cliched photos of hockey players with missing teeth and those classic movie scenes where the boxer gets his teeth knocked out. But did you know that acute dental injuries like broken or lost teeth aren’t the only thing athletes need to worry about when it comes to oral health? As it turns out, athletes actually have a much higher chance of developing various periodontal diseases than the normal individual.
Studies show that athletes, endurance athletes in particular, are more likely to develop dental problems based on one factor: saliva. Studies show that when an athlete engages in exercise or a physical activity longer than 35 minutes, they develop severe dry mouth. And therein lies the problem.
Saliva is very important for your overall oral health. It helps you digest your food and maintains your mouth’s natural environment of homeostasis. The minerals, proteins, and enzymes in your saliva also serve to fight bacteria that cause decay and disease.
So when researchers took notice that athletes commonly develop dry mouth, they started doing some digging.
What they found is startling – a significant elevation in the alkalinity of athlete’s mouths after physical exertion. It’s this increased pH that is responsible for plaque build up, cavities, decay, periodontal disease, and more.
What does this mean for athletes? Well, many athletes have complaints about their deteriorated dental condition causing a decrease in physical performance. And it’s no wonder why. The mouth is a central point of physical awareness, as well as general health.
Of course, the last thing dentists want to do is discourage exercise. After all, even if it becomes an accepted fact that physical exertion causes tooth decay, staying fit and active is too crucial to other aspects of physical health to simply toss aside.
However, dentists do want to raise awareness of this crucial correlation. One of the primary keys to health is knowledge, and it’s by knowing about this effect that we’re able to work against it.
As such, athletes should take extra care to ensure their dental health is in order. This means thorough brushing twice daily, flossing nightly, and staying well hydrated throughout any extended physical activity.
Don’t let pH imbalance from your athletic activities harm your oral health. With a little forethought, even the toughest of competitors can maintain a healthy smile.
About the Author
Dr. Yasir Issa D.D.S practices at the Bright Side Dental Indiana Office.