“Aside from overuse injuries and skin cancer, runners score well on most measures of good health. But another red flag has been raised by new research: Runners may suffer higher risks of tooth erosion and cavities.” – Runners World
Runners risk “robbing Peter to pay Paul” unless they are diligent about the health of their mouths as they are about their overall fitness. Several recent studies have found that athletes—especially runners—are more prone to tooth decay than the rest of us. One study compared the oral health of tri-athletes to a control group of non-athletes and found that the triathletes had significantly higher tooth erosion. The athletes who spent the most time training also had the most cavities.
Some of the difference may concern saliva, which is very important to the health of your mouth. Once they began exercising, the athletes produced less saliva than the control group and what they did produce was highly acidic. Saliva reduction often occurs because athletes breathe through the mouth during a strenuous workout. And sport drinks, gels, and bars—all high in carbohydrates—can lower the mouth’s pH to below 5.5.
Researchers are testing toothpastes and rinses for use by athletes that will allow them to build up their physiques without undermining their oral health. Until such is found, wise athletes will brush their teeth after every run, especially if they have consumed any carbs during the workout.