Dental researchers have concluded that endurance athletes have greater chances to suffer from dental problems than non-athletes. Why? There are two culprits that contribute to this phenomenon: consuming lots of sports drinks and improper breathing during training, thus causing dry mouth.
Oral health and elite athletes
In the International Journal of Sports Medicine, it was debated about the training strategies elite athletes use that “coincide with dental caries and erosion”. It was about a study that identified specific dental health risk factors from elite triathletes. The results showed that 85% of athletes consume sports drinks during training, most of them taking “little sips” often from the bottle.
Another study was conducted with 35 triathletes and 35 non-exercising persons. After an oral examination and after looking at the participants drinking, eating and oral habits, researchers have determined that athletes have an increased risk of dental erosion (not carries). The more they trained, the higher the risk of them suffering from caries.
Sports drinks, although intended for hydration, are not ideal for athletes (or anyone else)
Sports drinks are used during athletic training, but they are also quite popular as a beverage during summer months. People think that they are crucial for your electrolyte balance during activities, but this remains just a theory. Commercial sports drinks are nothing but unhealthy.
Gatorade, Powerade and others work just because they contain high amounts of processed salt (sodium) and other electrolytes. These will replenish the electrolytes you lose. But processed salt is not good for your body and kidneys.
Power drinks also contain high amounts of sugar. Leading brands of sports drinks contain at least two-thirds the amount of sugar found in regular sodas, which have sugar levels way over the daily recommended dose. Processed fructose (the sugar used for sports drinks) is known to inhibit the natural production of human growth hormone (HGH), known as the “fitness hormone”. Fructose also gets your metabolism and tricks your body into gaining weight because it turns off your body’s appetite-control system.
Mouth breathing is another factor
Most people, elite athletes included, tend to breathe while making effort through their mouth. This reduces the flow of saliva in your mouth and dries it up. This will allow the bacteria from your mouth to develop faster. Add sugary drinks that contain corrosive ingredients and you have found the receipt for dental caries and tooth decay. Around 80 percent of Western people breath incorrectly during heavy exertion.
Overbreathing also results from hyperventilating during exercising. This will cause your CO2 levels to drop and reduce blood flow to your heart, thus increasing the risk of cardiac arrhythmias, which can be dangerous.
You can try breathing through your nose and try to consume other hydration alternatives.