The most common New Year’s Resolutions involve losing weight and getting more exercise. Unfortunately, about 30% of people don’t keep their resolutions past the second week. If you’re one of the ones still holding out, congratulations! And here’s to hoping that you’re among the elite 8% that manage to keep their resolutions all year long.
But if you are among those who will keep up exercising all year, you have to make sure you’re not endangering your teeth even while you’re trying to help your waistline or your heart. Here are five keys to ensuring that you have a tooth-healthy exercise routine.
Of course, staying hydrated is a good tip to incorporate into your exercise routine anyway. If you’re not staying hydrated, you could be putting yourself at serious risk. But it’s also important to protect your teeth.
The first line of defense your teeth have against decay is your saliva. Saliva washes food and plaque off your teeth. It’s also got antibacterial compounds in it that can kill off harmful bacteria, and it serves as a buffer to keep your mouth from getting acidic and eroding your teeth.
When you get dehydrated, your saliva quantity decreases. Your mouth dries out, especially if you’re breathing through your mouth, and the concentrated saliva turns acidic. So make sure you’re staying hydrated during your routines, or else you could be looking at a lot more crowns and fillings.
Limit Sports Drinks
But when you’re hydrating, stick to water as much as possible. While it’s true that some of the electrolytes can be helpful, it’s really not necessary for most workouts. Simple water is all that you need.
And sports drinks can be hard on your teeth. They are highly acidic, sometimes as acidic as sodas, and they are full of sugars. If you do consume a sports drink, follow up with water to help rinse sugars and neutralize acid.
If your resolution involves weight loss, watch out for compensatory eating. Many people who start exercise routines will also increase their snacking. They think they’ve “earned it,” but in truth the snacks they’re consuming contain many more calories than they’re burning. It turns out this problem is worse for people who start on heavy exercise routines. Moderate exercise and no extra snacking is best for weight loss.
And it’s best for your teeth. Between meal snacking is terrible for your oral health. It puts sugars and other carbohydrates on your teeth all the time, fueling the oral bacteria that secrete damaging acid. Some of the worst snacks can be those energy bars and gels designed to be consumed while exercising. They can be highly acidic and full of sugars.
Know Your Limits
Although it’s good to get more exercise, it’s important to take it slow. If you start out pushing yourself too hard, you might end up taking some spills. Competitive sports accounts for a lot of emergency dentistry.
Clenching your teeth can also damage them. If you find yourself clenching your teeth during your weight training or calisthenics, the first thing to consider is that you might be pushing too hard. Ease up a little bit, and then consider your form, which could also be responsible.
Talk to a Dentist about TMJ
Clenching teeth during exercise can exacerbate underlying temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), which you might notice as increased pain in your jaw, neck, and head, during or after exercise. A neuromuscular dentist can fit you with a day guard that will help protect your teeth during your workout and may help alleviate TMJ-related pain.
Don’t confuse these with over-the-counter mouthguards which provide minimal protection against shocks, and little to no protection against clenching–they can even make TMJ worse.
If you are looking for a dentist in Rochester that links your overall health with your oral health, please call 585-244-3337 for an appointment at Contemporary Dentistry today.