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A Winning Team: The Mouth and Body Powerhouse

By Jill Feilmeier on March 3, 2015 in Healthy Living

Groupd of runners at sunset

When we think about getting our bodies in tip-top shape, we think about consistent exercise and a clean diet. We all know that eating Wheaties is a sure way to supercharge our body for a sports victory, but we don’t often emphasize the importance of brushing afterward. Because the mouth and body work together and influence each other, it’s crucial to care for our mouths alongside our bodies. 

Oral and overall health are closely linked and impact one another. For a high score in health, increase your physical activity AND establish habits to improve your smile. Click here for tips on brushing and flossing the right way.

Our Mouth and Body Work as a Team

Did you know that poor oral health is actually common in elite athletes?” It may come as a surprise, but oral health can often get neglected, even for the most athletic individuals. Between 28 and 40 percent of elite athletes in one study reported that their oral health negatively impacts their quality of life.

High-energy diets often increase an individual’s carbohydrate intake. Carbs have cavity-causing bacteria that cause tooth decay, just like sugar. When we add in the acidic nature of sports drinks, it’s no challenge to see why endurance athletes struggle with tooth decay and cavities.

Studies point out why athletic individuals often have a harder time fighting off bad oral bacteria:

  • dehydration
  • dry mouth
  • intensive training
  • poor health behaviors like a high carb and sugar diet
  • a lack of oral health literacy
  • and a lack of effective health promotion and preventive care with a dentist.

Here are our 4 expert tips to help you maintain your oral health AND your fitness game:

1. Set realistic weekly workout goals that include oral health. 

Keep a chart to track your progress and reward yourself for reaching your fitness goals. Add brushing and flossing to your cool-down regimen. Don’t forget to schedule your preventive care appointments with your dentist. 

2. Grab a buddy to help hold you accountable.

Whether it’s a virtual workout session or in person, they can great for talking you out of that post-workout donut. Encourage one another to take classes or go for de-stressing walks throughout the day.

3. Control the carbs.

If unhealthy foods aren't around, you're less likely to indulge in sweets. Replace junk food, high-sugar energy-boosting snacks, sports drinks, and carbohydrates. Reach for fruits and veggies instead that are healthy, tooth-friendly, and delicious.

4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Water is your best friend. If it doesn’t currently feel that way, you may need to add a little effort into the relationship. Consistently drinking water throughout the day will ensure you’re optimally hydrated. It also helps our mouths salivate, which washes away cavity-causing bacteria. If you’re not able to brush and floss after a workout, rinse with water to prevent tooth decay!

Remember, a healthy body includes a healthy mouth. Looking for more on the mouth and body connection? Check out The Love Connection Between Heart and Oral Health.

For tooth-friendly recipes your taste buds will love, read up on how to Fire Up the BBQ for a Healthy “Grill”. 

*Updated June 2020