If you're like most athletes, you're very aware of your overall health. After all, your body needs to stay healthy and strong in order to perform at its best. One aspect of health that athletes unfortunately overlook all too often is dental health. In fact, athletes sometimes develop bad habits that can wreak havoc on their teeth, leading to decay and gum disease. Don't let poor dental health keep you out of the game. Follow these four easy dental care tips for athletes to ensure that your teeth and gums are as healthy as the rest of your body.
Use sports drinks sparingly.
Sports drinks contain sugar, which feeds the oral bacteria in your mouth and can lead to tooth decay. When you sip a sports drink throughout a workout, that's a long time for sugar to be lingering on your teeth. You can minimize the damage by saving sports drinks for when you really need them – during your longest and most grueling workouts – and drinking only water during shorter workouts. When you do drink sports drinks, try to drink some water in between sips of sports drink so you're rinsing the sugar off of your teeth.
Brush your teeth after workouts.
When your heart is pumping, and you're breathing heavily, you often end up breathing through your mouth, which dries it out. Oral bacteria love a dry mouth. Brushing your teeth after each workout will help rinse them away so they can't cause too much harm. Get into the habit of carrying your toothbrush in your gym bag for this purpose.
Dehydration is another cause of dry mouth, and athletes who do not drink enough fluids can easily become dehydrated. Make sure you're sipping water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated and also keep your mouth moist. If your urine is not nearly clear, you're dehydrated and need to step up your drinking game.
Wear a mouth guard if you clench your teeth – even in non-contact sports.
There's a common misconception that mouth guards are only for those in contact sports like football and rugby. While they certainly are important for preventing mouth injuries in these sports, they also serve another purpose – they help prevent damage when you're gritting your teeth. Athletes in all sports – from running to basketball – tend to clench their teeth when concentrating and working hard. This can weaken tooth enamel, leading to cavities and chipped teeth. Wear a mouth guard when you participate in any sport, and you'll be doing your teeth a big favor.
For more information about oral care, contact Amherstburg Dental or a similar location.