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  • Dr Vyla Ellis

Being a Fitness Fanatic Impacts your Teeth. Find Out How.

Recently I have been treating a patient who lives a very healthy lifestyle. They put a lot of time and effort into their fitness and regularly train for competitions. They consciously make healthy eating choices and have excellent general health. Our hygienist gleams with delight when she hears that this patient doesn't just brush twice a day but flosses daily, without fail. So you would presume that this patient has a healthy mouth, right? Wrong. Today we explore common dental issues for fitness fanatics.

Problem: Sports Drinks

Rehydrating with sports drinks or energy drinks is common among those in training. While there are benefits owing to the electrolytes in sports drinks, they are highly acidic and cause the outer layer of the tooth to dissolve. This is known as dental erosion. Studies have shown that the first signs of dental erosion are evident after just 5 consecutive days of consumption. This erosion is made worse by the fact that most people tend to sip on their sports drink over the course of a training session or a game, resulting in the teeth being essentially bathed in a pool of acid for a couple of hours. To add insult to injury, sports drinks also contain sugar which causes tooth decay.

Solution: Be like Lleyton Hewitt

No, yelling at the ref won't help your teeth or your game. Did you ever notice that Lleyton used to sip from one drink bottle closely followed by another? Lleyton knew that sports drinks were bad for his smile so he drank his sports drink and then immediately after washed it away with a drink of water. If you can get away without the sports drink its even better - perhaps saving the sports drinks for game day or those long training sessions.

Problem: Open Mouth Breathing

When exercising we tend to breath heavily with an open mouth. Combine this with dehydration and we have a dry mouth which limits the greatest protector of the teeth- saliva. This lack of saliva increases the potential of sports drinks, gels, sugars and acids to harm the teeth.

Solution: Keep well Hydrated

Natural options are best. Water or coconut water. Coconut water is very hydrating and has the added benefit of being an anti-inflammatory.

Problem: Clenching

When we are concentrating intensely there is a tendency to clench the teeth together. This is often true during training. If you are constantly holding your jaw shut it puts a huge amount of stress on the teeth and the jaw joint. This commonly leads to breaking teeth and fillings, wearing the biting surface of the teeth resulting in very short teeth, jaw pain and lock-jaw.

Solution: Take Check of your Jaw

Did you know that unless you are eating that your teeth should never touch? There should always be a small gap between the teeth. Now that you're aware of this consider whether you're holding your teeth together during training. If you are then just take a moment to take check of your jaw every now and then during your training sessions until you break the habit.

Problem: Getting a Tooth Knocked Out

If you've watched your fair share of footy you are bound to have seen some teeth, smashed, pushed out of position or go flying. These types of injuries mostly affect the front teeth and require fast attention. Even with quick dental care they can require major dental treatment and a life time of close maintenance to keep these teeth.

Solution: Barrack for Collingwood

If you're not willing to change teams then wear a mouthguard. If you play a contact sport or one of the following we highly recommend wearing a mouthguard: footy, soccer, hockey and basketball. A mouthguard is a relatively small investment upfront to prevent major damage down the track.

We love that you are into living a healthy lifestyle and we want to help you maintain this without harming your teeth. Just remember that no matter how healthy your lifestyle, everyone needs to see the dentist regularly for a check up. Even the dentist has to go to the dentist every 6 months. If you're overdue then make an appointment today.

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