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Can Exercise Improve Oral Health?

Can Exercise Improve Oral Health?

  • Exercise Promotes Healthy Gums
  • BMI and Oral Health
  • Oral Benefits of Moderate Exercise

If you’ve resolved to do daily runs up Bascom Hill this New Year, you’ll have more than just killer quads to show for it. Research suggests that regular exercise can also help improve oral health. Here’s how sticking to those New Year’s resolutions will also keep your smile bright and strong in 2021.

Exercise Promotes Healthy Gums

Research published in the Journal of Dentistry showed that regular exercise can improve gum health. The study tracked a group of American adults for ten years with the purpose of discovering any connection between physical activity and periodontitis.

They found that non-smokers who exercised regularly were 54% less likely to develop periodontitis than non-smokers who did not exercise. Among former smokers, those who exercised had a 74% reduced risk for periodontitis than former smokers who did not exercise. Current smokers who exercise did not see a statistically significant reduced rate of periodontitis.

For further reading: How Can I Make Periodontitis Go Away?

BMI and Oral Health

Regular exercise can also help lower your body mass index, which in turn improves gum health. A 2010 study in the Journal of Periodontology showed that people “who maintained a healthy weight and had high levels of physical fitness had a lower incidence of severe periodontitis.” Those who had the lowest BMI and exercised the most had much lower rates of severe periodontitis.

BMI is a calculation of weight-to-height ratio and is one way to screen for obesity. To calculate your BMI, click here.

How Much Exercise Is Enough?

How much exercise do you need to do to see improvement to your oral health? Moderate exercise has been shown to improve periodontal health.

The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, like jogging or running, for adults each week. It also recommends twice-weekly strength training.

Easy Does It

Before you sign up for the Ironman in order to ace your next dental check-up, it’s important to note that there are limits to the oral health benefits of exercise. Endurance athletes are at higher risk for cavities and other oral problems due to lower levels of saliva and increased pH levels in their mouths during intense workouts. They also experience issues related to dry mouth due to their tendency to breathe through their mouths instead of their noses. The dry mouth is often further exacerbated by highly acidic sports drinks and sugary energy bars.

If you’re routinely running ultramarathons around the isthmus, be sure to mention your exercise habits with your dentist and discuss ways to give your teeth extra care. Training can be done to learn to breathe through the nose during workouts. Ask your dentist for tooth-friendly alternatives to sports drinks and if you require more frequent check-ups to protect your teeth.

Periodontal Maintenance in Madison, Wisconsin

Regular dental cleanings are essential for keeping your teeth healthy and strong. To schedule yours today, please contact our offices. Affiliated Dentists offers general dentistry and periodontal maintenance in Madison, Wisconsin.

Can Exercise Improve Oral Health? brought to you by Dr. Mark Gustavson

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