I often experience "cotton mouth" when I am running and, while it's totally annoying, I had no idea that it could actually be damaging to my teeth. Well, according to the California Dental Hygienists' Association, it is.
Distance runners, cyclists, triathletes, and other serious athletes often experience cotton mouth, which reduces saliva from increased air intake. This can lead to dental decay since saliva acts as a protective coating for our teeth against the acid in our mouths.
This problem is compounded when these athletes consume high amounts of carbohydrates; the breakdown of carbohydrates leads to higher acidity in the mouth. Additionally, many drinks and sports gels consumed during races are very high in sugar, which also contributes to dental decay.
Who knew?! So for tips on how to prevent this from happening while working out just
- Use xylitol-containing products such as chewing gum between workouts and meals to generate remineralization of teeth.
- There are some sports drinks companies starting to use xylitol as a sweetener, use them if you can find them.
- Carry a bottle of water or cup of ice while racing or working out to rinse the mouth after you consume a gel, drink, or bar. This also helps relieve dry mouth.
- Use an appropriate fluoride rinse and toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Brushing teeth well for at least two minutes and flossing daily are your best defense against dental decay.
- Visit your dental hygienist at least once every six months.