When many of our patients think of physical fitness, a toned body and improved self-esteem most frequently come to mind. It’s true that an active lifestyle improves your appearance, and that exercise has been linked with longevity and a higher level of overall health.
Yet few stop to consider the benefits of exercise and physical fitness on the health of the teeth and gums. Dr. Janice Spada, a family dentist near Boston, MA, discusses important considerations for oral health and exercise.
Healthy Body, Healthy Teeth and Gums
A recent study of more than 12,000 respondents revealed many of the behaviors linked most closely with higher overall health—eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight—are also linked to gum health.
Participants who did not engage in at least one of these healthy behaviors were 16 percent more likely to be diagnosed with advanced periodontal disease. A participant who regularly practiced two of these behaviors achieved a 29 percent decrease in risk.
Those who practiced all three of these healthy behaviors were up to 40 percent less susceptible to the disease.
More About Oral-Systemic Health
The influence of your oral health on other areas of your body may surprise you. Excellent hygiene and regular dental exams have been proven to reduce your risk for many potentially devastating health conditions.
For example, several studies suggest a possible link between gum health and Alzheimer’s, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and even fertility.
Of course, physical fitness and the healthy behaviors outlined above also afford greater protection against these and other illnesses and issues.
A Cautionary Note Regarding Sports Drinks
Dr. Spada warns that, for most patients, sports and energy drinks should be avoided. Unless you participate in rigorous, high-intensity physical fitness regimens lasting longer than 45 minutes, plain water is your best bet.
Sports drinks contain surprising amounts of sugar and are largely acidic, sometimes more so than sodas. Sugar and acid weaken the enamel that protects your teeth, making you more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.
If you do opt for sports drinks, she advises rinsing your mouth with plain water afterward. Wait a minimum of 30 minutes before using a toothbrush to clean your teeth, lest you inflict further damage on your temporarily weakened tooth enamel.
Questions about oral health and hygiene? To learn more about caring for your family’s teeth and gums, or to request an appointment with Dr. Janice Spada, contact our Boston area dentist office at (978) 443-3111. We welcome patients living in and around Boston, including Framingham, Sudbury, Worcester, Marlborough, and the surrounding communities.