Regular physical exercise will affect your oral health. The effect can be either positive or negative, depending on your unique circumstances. Below is an overview of these effects.
The Negative Effects
Here are some oral health problems associated with physical exercise.
Working out causes you to sweat and dehydrate. Dehydration leads to a dry mouth. A dry mouth lacks the saliva to wash away bacteria and neutralize their acids and sugar. This leads to an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
As mentioned above, physical activity makes people feel dehydrated and thirsty. Some people rehydrate by drinking sports drinks. Some people also drink sports drinks to boost their energy levels.
Unfortunately, most of these drinks contain sugar, which remains in the mouth and feeds destructive bacteria. The bacteria then attacks the gums and produce acids that trigger enamel erosion.
Open Mouth Breathing
Some people breathe through their mouth when engaging in strenuous physical activities. Breathing through the mouth dries up the mouth. Again, the result is an increased risk of bacterial attack in the mouth.
The Positive Effects
Fortunately, the positive effects of physical exercise on oral health seem to outweigh the negatives. Below are some of these positive effects.
Less Risk of Periodontitis
Regular physical exercise reduces your risk of periodontitis. According to an article in nature.com, nonsmokers who engage in regular physical exercise are 54% less likely to get periodontitis than nonsmokers who don't exercise regularly.
Physical exercise helps to boost your endorphins (the 'feel-good' hormones). Reduced stress leads to better oral and dental health. For example, you are more likely to clench and grind your teeth if you are under stress than if you are relaxed, and teeth grinding and clenching damage your teeth.
Physical exercise helps to keep your immune system strong. A healthy immune system is useful for keeping diseases at bay, including oral diseases.
Lastly, physical exercise also boosts physical fitness by strengthening your bones and muscles. Regular physical exercise also helps to keep you alert and improves your sense of balance. All of these reduce your risk of falling, which lowers your risk of dental accidents.
As you can see, the negative effects are things you can control. For example, you should opt for non-sugary sports drinks for hydration and learn to breathe through your nose. Therefore, you should not stop working out. Note that you will need other forms of preventive dental care, including regular dental checkups, to maintain good oral health. Contact a dentist like Michael G Landy DDS to learn more.