When you think about getting your body in shape, you probably think about consistent exercise and a clean diet. You know that eating healthy is a sure way to supercharge your body for a sports victory, and many people also rely on gels, granola bars, and energy bars for an added boost… but it’s just as important to brush after you consume any of that. 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 maintain a healthy 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 may 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, such as repeated impact on your teeth.
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. If you use sugar-filled protein or energy boosters, remember to brush and floss after your workout because the sugar in most energy boosters is not good for your oral health. 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 hiking in the mountains, 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. 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 Hydration & Your Mouth: Oral Health Benefits of Water.
*Updated January 2023