Athletes typically spend a fair bit of time thinking about and caring for their physical health. However, in the midst of intense training sessions and protein shakes it can be easy to forget about or neglect their oral health.
Athletics can affect and cause complications to oral health in a variety of ways so understanding the best strategies to maintain oral health and prevent any potential damage or trauma to the teeth. Read on to learn about 5 simple and easy methods for athletes to take optimal care of their teeth and maintain good oral health.
Always Wear a Mouthguard
If you happen to participate in a sport or other activity that involves lots of physical contact and potential collisions (such as football, ice hockey, rugby, soccer, etc.), wearing a mouthguard during every practice, game or competition is essential. Mouthguards work to protect the teeth from any impact that could cause chips, cracks, or breaks should there be a collision. After using your mouthguard, ensure that it is properly cleaned after each use and stored in a clean and dry area. This makes sure that your mouthguard doesn’t have any bad bacteria that could be introduced into your mouth with the next use.
Always Wear a Helmet
Upon first thought, you may not think that wearing a helmet would do anything to help protect your teeth. While helmets are primarily designed to protect your head, they also can help to protect the teeth should there be a collision or other accident. This is because a helmet works as a barrier between your head and face, and whatever you may be colliding with. In many cases, the half-inch to inch-long buffer can be the difference between broken teeth and an intact smile.
Always Prioritize Nutrition
While it is common for athletes to prioritize their nutrition in order to effectively fuel their athletic ambitions, a well-balanced diet is also of great importance for maintaining good oral health. More and more studies have been conducted that prove that proper nutrition is essential to the health of your teeth and gums as well. The healthiest diet for oral health has limited amounts of processed sugar and other foods and instead has plenty of whole foods and fresh fruit and vegetables.
Always Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water every day is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and staying hydrated while exercising or participating in sports is of utmost importance. Proper hydration ensures that you prevent possible dehydration and helps your body maintain energy throughout active pursuits. Maintaining good hydration also helps your oral health by making sure that your
salivary glands are always functioning optimally, which in turn helps to keep your mouth clean and works to remove bacteria and plaque from the surface of your teeth and gums.
Avoid Sugar Filled Sports Drinks
We know that hydration is essential when being active or participating in sports, so it can be incredibly tempting to reach for the popular and sugar-filled sports drinks during or after a tough game or workout. However, it is important to know that these beverages can often cause more harm than good. The high level of sugar in many of the available sports drinks can increase the risk of developing cavities and can also increase inflammation within the body. Instead, stick to water or a sugar-free beverage instead.
The Bottom Line
On top of these tips that are specific to athletes, it is important to know that the most effective way to maintain optimal oral health is to practice an effective oral health routine every day. This must include brushing at least twice daily, flossing once per day, and seeing your dentist regularly for routine checkups and professional cleanings. If you do this, as well as follow the tips listed above, you will have the best chance of preserving the health and appearance of your teeth for years to come. If you want to learn more about how to effectively maintain your oral health or to book your appointment, contact our Guelph dentist’s office today!