It is well known that exercise is essential for good health. Can it harm your teeth in the long run? A number of studies have linked fitness and exercise habits with increased risks of tooth decay and erosion. Some of the ways in which exercise can influence our dental health are as follows:
Exercise that involves heavy mouth breathing can reduce saliva production and cause your mouth to be dry. Saliva contains minerals and enzymes that protect against decay-causing bacteria. During exercise, try to breathe through your nose as much as possible, and drink plenty of water before, during, and after you exercise to prevent your mouth from drying out, which can lead to tooth decay. Brushing your teeth before exercising will help you reduce the presence of bacteria and plaque on your teeth.
Clenching your teeth
If an athlete puts a lot of effort into lifting weights, they can clench their jaws. Studies have shown that clenching your jaw can result in wear on your teeth and possible tooth fractures. In order to protect your teeth from clenching, you may want to wear a mouthguard. Generally, mouthguards can be purchased from most drugstores or sporting goods stores, or you can have a customized mouthguard made by your dentist. We encourage everyone who participates in sporting activities to wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth.
Sports drinks contain a lot of sugar and have been shown to be 30 times more erosive to your teeth than water, so they can potentially do a great deal of damage. These drinks contain citric acid, which can soften the enamel of the teeth to the point that even brushing the teeth after consumption can be dangerous. Therefore, you should drink water instead of sports drinks to prevent these negative effects. It is also advisable not to sip on sports drinks over an extended period of time, as this creates a continual sugar bath for your teeth. If you do consume a sugary drink, it is best to drink it in a small window of time, then rinse your mouth with water afterward.
When we consume foods or drinks containing any form of sugar or carbohydrates, our mouth develops an acid that attacks the enamel of our teeth for 30 minutes. Our teeth can recover from three of these attacks a day, which includes our meals. It is best to consume sugar and carbohydrates at one time rather than continuously throughout the day. Drinking plenty of water after sugar or carbohydrate consumption can help reduce the acidity levels in our mouths.
Sealants are often thought of as a treatment for children, but adults can also benefit from them. Sealants are used to protect our teeth by sealing the deep grooves and crevices in the chewing surfaces. According to a study performed by the American Dental Association, using sealants for adults can help prevent cavities from developing on healthy teeth.
What is a sealant?
A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating that is painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth. Although they do not replace daily brushing and flossing, dental sealants can prevent cavities from forming.
Despite being able to achieve good oral health at home, there are areas of the mouth that are hard to reach, making it more challenging to maintain good oral hygiene. You have grooves on your molars known as “pits” and “fissures.” Because these grooves are so deep, your toothbrush will not be able to clean them out. As a result, they trap food and bacteria, making them more susceptible to decay.
A consultation with your dentist will be able to determine whether or not dental sealants are a viable option for preventing tooth decay. Often, patients are surprised by how quickly and easily sealants can be applied, as shown below.
- The teeth are thoroughly cleaned.
- In the next step, the teeth are dried and etched with a solution that prepares the tooth surface for sealing.
- We then apply the liquid sealant material, which flows directly into your teeth’s grooves.
- A type of ultraviolet light called a curing light is placed on the tooth to harden the sealant material, which seals off the grooves and creates a smoother chewing surface that is easier to clean.
It is not necessary to do anything special to maintain a sealant, and you can brush and floss as usual. However, there are some precautions to keep in mind. Make sure you use a toothbrush with soft bristles and toothpaste containing remineralizing agents like hydroxyapatite. Consumption of foods such as berries, coffee, tea, or red wine can also stain sealants. To reduce the likelihood of staining, it is recommended that you rinse your mouth after eating these foods. Finally, eating sticky, chewy, or hard foods may cause the sealant to wear down. Our dental office will check your sealants at each appointment for any signs of wear.
With proper at-home care and regular professional cleaning, sealants can last up to ten years. Please contact our dental office if you have questions, and we would be happy to schedule an appointment.