Endurance Sports and Oral Health

Marathon runner's legs

Marathons. Triathlons. Tough mudders. Whatever your endurance sport, training and performing is a major plus for your body. From your heart to your muscles to even your mental health, physical activity has a holistic positive effect on all the systems of the body. But there’s one area of your body that may not be so lucky if you’re not careful. It’s your mouth, and endurance training can really put it through the ringer. If you participate in any kind of endurance sports – or even just put in a grueling workout at the gym – here’s what you should know about protecting your oral health. Dr. Alexandra George is a dentist from Wexford, Pennsylvania. She says participants in endurance sports need to be extra mindful of their oral health. “It’s natural when straining your body to grit or grind your teeth,” she says. “That is why it’s imperative that when you are participating in endurance sports you wear a mouth guard. A mouth guard is also useful for protecting teeth against accidents like falls or being accidentally hit in the mouth while being active.” Another natural thing to do when performing an endurance sport is to breathe through the mouth. This forceful breathing can be dangerous to the teeth because it dries the mouth out at a faster rate than normal mouth breathing or nasal breathing. If you breathe through the mouth while participating in sports, be sure to increase your fluids to compensate! “When performing in sporting events many people choose to drink sugary electrolyte-enhanced beverages that can be bad for the teeth,” says George. “If you drink sugary sports drinks, the combination of dry mouth and excess sugar is upping your risk of cavities and bad breath. If you must drink sports drinks while active, be sure to alternate sips with water, or rinse your mouth out with water when your sports drink is finished.” Because of the extra wear and tear on your teeth from endurance training, it is important that you visit your dentist more frequently than you might think. George recommends you stop by your dentist’s office at least two or three times a year to be sure that your oral health is solid and there is no damage to your teeth. Remember: Your oral health, or lack thereof, affects your total body health, which can affect your sports performance.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on April 8th, 2019