When your health is a priority, it makes good sense to exercise regularly. Exercise is well known for benefitting the health of your heart, lungs, muscles and nearly every part of your body. Your dental health is no exception. Here’s what you should know about how exercise affects dental health so you can feel even more motivated to hit the trails or the gym.

Benefits of Exercise

Just like with most activities, there are ways that exercising can benefit your dental health and some things to watch out for too. Let’s talk about the benefits first.

One of the important benefits exercise can have on dental health is a reduced risk of periodontal disease. A study by the Journal of Dentistry showed that people who worked out regularly had 54% lower risk of developing gum disease. The Journal of Periodontology also showed that those who had a lower BMI (body mass index) and exercised the recommended amount were 40% less likely to develop gum disease.

Exercise often leads to other healthier life choices, as well, such as focusing more on self-care like your daily oral hygiene routine and eating more fruits, veggies, high fiber and nutrient rich foods. Eating healthier foods can have a big impact on your dental health by reducing your exposure to sugars and carbs, which can feed the bacteria that causes cavities, and increasing your exposure to raw whole foods that can help to clean and nourish your teeth.

Risks of Exercise

There can also be some negatives to how exercise affects dental health, but thankfully most of the risks can be mitigated if you are simply aware of them and know how to protect your teeth.

Popular sports drinks that are used by many athletes to help with hydration can contain large amounts of sugar. When you need to stay hydrated, try to opt for sugar-free options that contain electrolytes to minimize the risks while still providing adequate hydration.

Dry mouth is another risk factor. Saliva is important to your dental health because it works to keep the environment of your mouth balanced and protect your teeth from bacteria and plaque. You can lessen the risks of dry mouth by drinking lots of fluids and limiting how much you breathe through your mouth while exercising.

Last but not least is the risk of dental injury. If you’re playing a contact sport, it’s important to invest in a mouth guard. Mouth guards are thin flexible pieces of plastic that fit over your teeth and provide cushioning in case of an impact to the head or jaw to help protect your teeth from being broken, chipped or knocked out. They can be found at many sporting goods stores or your dentist can make a custom molded one to fit your mouth more comfortably.

Talk to Your Dentist

How exercise affects dental health as well as your whole body’s health can depend on the way you approach it. It’s a good idea to talk with your primary care doctor if you’re beginning a new exercise routine to ensure your safety, but it can also be helpful to talk with your dentist, too, so that you can ask any dental health related questions and ensure that you are protecting your teeth from any new risks specific to the exercise program or sport you enjoy participating in.

Call our Mesa Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.