A blog by runners. For runners.

Running may be bad for your teeth

Running may be bad for your teeth. According to a study published in June by the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, the harder people workout, the less saliva they produce and the salvia they do produce has a high PH balance. Both of these scenarios are bad for tooth and gum health.

While this particular study was small – it compared 35 triathletes to 35 non-athletes – a study published last year by The British Journal of Sports Medicine had similar findings. In that study, dentists examined 278 athletes at the 2012 London Olympic games who hailed from Africa, the Americas, and Europe, and most displayed “high levels of tooth decay, often in conjunction with gum disease and erosion of the tooth enamel.”

Of course, oral habits of all sorts should also be taken into consideration before pointing the finger too directly at intense athletics. These variables might include diet, self-care, and keeping up with routine exams. But there are some additional precautions runners can take to keep their teeth strong:

  1. Drink water. Simply put, saliva production and PH levels are improved by drinking water. Make sure to get a good mix of bottled and tap or well water, since filtered water has been shown to contribute to higher levels of tooth decay. Bonus: You need the hydration anyway for the rest of your body to run smoothly.
  2. Skip sugary supplements. Steer clear from consuming too many bars, gels, sports drinks, and other supplements that contain sugar and other tooth enemies. In fact, you can make your own with lower sugar content. And, yes, you deserve a treat for all your efforts – but be sure to brush your teeth well afterward to avoid cavities.
  3. Chew gum. Sugar-free gum or sugar-free candy can also help with saliva production and, therefore, help protect teeth. My dentist suggests chewing gum for 20 minutes following each meal to keep the juices flowing. If you have low tooth enamel, this practice might also strengthen your teeth by adding calcium and phosphate to the tooth’s surface.
  4. Keep appointments. If you have any parts of your dental health that give you concern, make an appointment ASAP. You should go to the dentist at least once per year, but most recommend getting routine cleanings every 6 months. Not only will you get a squeaky clean smile, you’ll also be screened for dental carries (cavities) and other issues, like receding gums, etc.

Written by Ashley Marcin.