When we think about getting our bodies in shape, we think about consistent exercise and a clean diet. We all know that eating healthy is a sure way to supercharge our body for a sports victory, but we don’t often emphasize the importance of brushing afterward. Because the mouth and body work together and influence each other, it’s crucial to care for our mouths alongside our bodies.
Oral and overall health are closely linked and impact one another. For a high score in health, increase your physical activity AND establish habits to improve your smile.
Our mouth and body work as a team
Did you know that many elite athletes suffer from poor oral health?
Many endurance athletes rely on high-sugar snacks such as gels, granola bars, and energy bars during their training. These foods have cavity-causing bacteria that cause tooth decay. When we add in the acidic nature of sports drinks, it’s no challenge to see why endurance athletes struggle with tooth decay and cavities.
In addition to a generally high-sugar diet, athletes are more likely to neglect their oral health because of factors such as intense training schedules, missed dentist visits, and a greater chance of incurring dental trauma.
Tips to improve oral health as an athlete
Taking care of both your physical and oral health is an important part of maintaining your mouth and body powerhouse. Don’t let dental problems stop you from achieving your athletic dreams by following these tips:
Set realistic weekly workout goals that include oral health
Keep a chart to track your progress and reward yourself for reaching your fitness goals. Add brushing and flossing to your cool-down regimen. Don’t forget to schedule your preventive care appointments with your dentist.
Grab a buddy to help hold you accountable
Whether it’s a virtual workout session or in person, a workout buddy can be great for talking you out of that post-workout donut. Encourage one another to take classes or go for de-stressing walks throughout the day.
Control the carbs
If unhealthy foods aren’t around, you’re less likely to indulge in sweets. Replace junk food, high-sugar energy-boosting snacks, sports drinks, and carbohydrates with healthier options. Reach for fruits and veggies instead that are healthy, tooth-friendly, and delicious.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Water is your best friend. Consistently drinking water throughout the day will ensure you’re optimally hydrated. It also helps our mouths salivate, which washes away cavity-causing bacteria. If you’re not able to brush and floss after a workout, rinse with water to prevent tooth decay!
Wear a mouthguard
If you are not already wearing a mouthguard for high-impact sports, now is the time to start. For sports such as soccer, basketball, skiing, football, and others, a mouthguard is a must to protect your teeth.
Remember, a healthy body includes a healthy mouth. Looking for more on the mouth and body connection? Check out Creating lifelong oral health habits starts at the dentist.
*Updated January 2023