It’s hard to imagine that exercise could be bad for, well, anything, but it might be true- researchers have found a link between excessive exercise and a heightened risk for dental issues.
A study of 278 athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympics found that the majority displayed poor oral health, with issues ranging from high levels of tooth decay, gum disease, and erosion of tooth enamel. This year, a dental school at University Hospital Heidelberg decided to take a closer look.
Although some might assume sugar sports drinks and bars could be the culprit, what they found was that it had to do with saliva.
During long workouts, both athlete and non-athlete volunteers progressively produced less saliva. Not only did their mouths dry out, but the chemical composition of their saliva changed, becoming excessively alkaline, which is thought to contribute to the development of tartar plaques and other problems.
But don’t let that be an excuse to skip the gym tonight. Senior dentist Dr. Cornelia Frese warms the study was small and short-term, so for now, “all we can say is that prolonged endurance training might be a risk factor for oral health.” She also states less frequent and intense workouts are unlikely to affect oral health, though they aren’t certain yet.
Precautions for now? Drinks more water during your workouts to keep your mouth hydrated, and obviously continue to brush and floss those chompers!