Participation in sports is a great way to keep your body healthy, not matter what your age. However, with increased activity comes an increased risk of injury. While you protect your body with pads and helmets, your teeth might be overlooked, even in non-regulated sports like weekend ultimate frisbee or casual volleyball with friends.
You can protect your teeth from sports injury by taking a few preventative precautions. Here's what every athlete -- amateur or expert -- needs to know about keeping their teeth safe during sports.
The most essential part of keeping your teeth safe during sports is to wear a mouth guard. Mouth guards help to prevent accidental chipping, but they are even effective for protecting against external blows during contact-heavy play, like that in rugby, football, or soccer.
It ideal to get a custom-fitting mouth guard from your dentist. But, generic ones that your can fit to your bite from sports stores are also effective. If you play sports often, it can be worth the investment for a custom set. The protection from injury justifies the increased cost.
If you have a child who plays sports, they might not take the need to wear a mouth guard during games and practice seriously. Try to stress the importance of this protection.
Sports Drinks and Electrolyte Replacement
During heavy games, long runs, or strenuous practice, you'll need more than water to replace fluids lost through sweat. Athletes know that they need to replace their electrolytes. Usually, people rely on sports drinks for fluids.
However, many sports drinks are very high in sugar, and a continual reliance on these drinks can increase your risk of tooth decay. The problems is made worse by the fact that many people will hydrate during play and practice, and the sugary residue remains in the mouth for an extended period of time.
Instead of using popular sports drinks to replace electrolytes, you might consider making your own reduced sugar versions. There are many recipes online. Many of them use natural flavorings and ingredients, and they provide the necessary nutrients and minerals your body will need, without putting your teeth at risk.
If your event is such that you rely on your drink for glucose as well as electrolytes, try to protect your teeth by swishing with water after drinking a sports drink.
The final danger to your teeth comes from water loss. Many people will push through a sport on lower-than-normal hydration levels. When your body becomes dehydrated, your saliva production decreases. Saliva is necessary to help protect your teeth from bacteria.
The pH of your saliva helps to neutralize the acid that bacteria produces, and it helps to keep your teeth moist enough to prevent the bacteria from settling onto your teeth for an extended period of time.
You can help to prevent dry mouth during exercise by drinking plenty of water, but you can also preserve your saliva levels by avoiding excessive spitting during a workout. You can also work on breathing in through your nose instead of your mouth, especially when working out or playing in a dry climate. It can take practice to establish this breathing habit, especially if you are new to a particular sport, but with concentration, it will become second-nature.
If you are concerned about how playing sports will affect your teeth, contact the dental offices of Richard M. King, D.D.S. We can answer the questions you might have about getting fitted for a mouth guard and providing the right nutrition you need to make every game a success -- not only for your team and body, but for your teeth as well.