Oral Health is a part of overall health. And, if you’re a runner, you should pay attention to your oral health. Poor oral health can result in cavities, bleeding gums, and decay – all which can affect your daily performance and long-term health.
Most oral health problems associated with running stem from fuel and stress:
- Runners rely on sports drinks, energy gels, and other simple sugar to fuel daily activity. All that sugar swishing around your teeth feeds the naturally present, tooth decay-causing bacteria.
- Running is a stress reliever, but also a stress creator for busy people. Race goals and fitting training into an already busy schedule can be stressful. Plus, runners over-index on Type A competitive personalities :) – compounding the problem.
But, no worries! A few simple tips will keep you and your teeth health and strong.
1. Rinse your mouth with water
After running, drink water to re-hydrate and help rinse excess sugar from your teeth. This is especially important if you have been taking gels or energy chew blocks.
2. Brush your teeth and floss every day.
This is one obvious, so do it. Make sure you’re using a high quality toothpaste because of the amount of sugar swishing around your mouth. I recommend Crest Pro-Health HD – 6X Cleaning and Whitening. It's a 2-step toothpaste that contains Stannous Fluoride (vs. regular Sodium Fluoride), which creates a protective layer on the tooth surface.
3. Moderate sports drinks.
Unless you're doing activity over 60 minutes, you do need Sports Drinks. Stick to water and save the sports drink for longer and harder efforts.
4. Use a mouthguard at night for teeth grinding
If you grind your teeth in your sleep, you likely know - you dentist or significant other will have broken the news. Grinding wears down the protective surface of your teeth, can break existing dental work (e.g. crowns, filings), and may crack your tooth. You can purchase a mouthguard at your local drugstore or get a custom-made one from your dentist.
5. Go to the Dentist.
If you can deal with the discomfort of tempo runs, you can deal with the dentist. Go. Get your teeth cleaned and stay healthy.
Of course, your other option is too not smile. But, nobody likes a mean runner.