Many athletes have great smiles to go with their strong bodies, but that’s not always the case. Stories often go around of sports injuries resulting in lost teeth, damaged jaws, or worse. You also sometimes meet people who’re physically fit whose teeth are crooked, stained or blackened. Does this mean that, unless you’re a Hollywood star, you have to choose between a healthy smile and a healthy body?
Nope! It’s entirely possible to have both — to have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. With the right change in habits, exercise and dental care can get along just fine. To see how, here is a list of tips from Chicago dentists on how to protect your mouth while pursuing fitness.
Wear (Mouth) Protection!
Whenever you’re doing something like bike riding, skating, football or hockey, wear a helmet for safety. Yes, helmets are best known for protecting your noggin, but they can also stop you from breaking or losing a tooth. Even without a face guard, a helmet can save you from chipping a tooth by reducing fall impact.
The more obvious choice, though, is the trusty mouth guard. A mouth guard forms a protective layer over your teeth during contact sports that prevents harm from collisions. A dentist-customized mouth guard is typically recommended over those sold at sporting-goods stores, as the former will perfectly mold to your teeth.
Limit the Sticky, Sugary Foods and Drinks
Sports drinks don’t do your mouth any favors. Most are jam-packed with acidic ingredients and sugar, two contributors to tooth decay and erosion. People also sip from such drinks more during intense exercise, resulting in increased exposure to factors that put your mouth at risk. You’d be better off replacing a sports drink with water or brushing your teeth 30 minutes after drinking one.
Similar things can be said for nutrition bars. After all, even if said bars contain healthy ingredients like dates, nuts, and raisins, they also include sugar and super sticky textures. The latter, especially, stays on teeth longer, making your mouth more susceptible to tooth decay. So, if you must eat them, at least be sure to brush or floss afterwards.
Be Aware of Your Mouth
To lift a heavy weight or push to run that last mile, you may unintentionally clench your teeth. The resulting bodily strain can then contribute to jaw misalignment and airway constriction, which impedes athletic performance. To be more aware of your jaw during physical activity, then, try shifting it into a relaxed position.
Furthermore, try to avoid mouth breathing. While it might be easier to get the necessary oxygen for exercise that way, mouth breathing causes the mouth to dry and produce less saliva, which serves a protective function for teeth. Studies have also shown that when saliva’s chemical composition shifts, it produces more alkaline, which contributes to the development of tartar or plaque on teeth. As such, make nasal breathing your norm.
You now see, hopefully, that you can strive for both the peak body and the peak smile without worry. Just make sure you take the proper precautions!
About the Practice
University Dental Professionals is a dental practice based in Chicago, IL. Established in 1984, it’s currently led by over half a dozen dentists, all of whom have earned Doctor of Dental Surgery degrees from prestigious institutions. The office’s entire team intentionally provides multiple specialties, ensuring patients have access to comprehensive, safe, and customized dental care. If you want to learn more about how to protect your smile during your fitness journey or you’d like to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to visit our website or call (773)-684-5702.