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Oral Health on the Field and at the Gym

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Staying hydrated while exercising can be challenging at times. Flavoured sports drinks may seem like the easiest solution. Be warned though, as they can expose your teeth to high levels of acidity and sugar.

To reduce your risk of dental damage, avoid swishing sports drinks around your mouth, use a straw to reduce direct exposure to your teeth and drink water as your main source of hydration.

Sports drinks aren’t the only issue to consider. Every time we eat, our teeth are exposed to an acid attack. The damage is increased if we eat sugary foods and drink. The bacteria in our mouths ferments the food to make acid, and if teeth are exposed to this acid long enough cavities develop. Frequent snacking can cause tooth decay and this does not apply only to lollies, sweet chocolate and other nasties. Some ‘Health Foods’ such as muesli bars and dried fruit contain high levels of sugar and acids. Try foods that have high nutritional value and are low in sugar to keep your energy levels up.

Some examples of Healthy Snacks for before and after the game that will save your teeth and money are:

• A glass of milk.

• Cheese and apple slices.

• Yoghurt and fresh fruit.

• Nuts.

• Celery and peanut butter sticks.

• Boiled egg on toast.

• Tuna on crackers.

• Plenty of water.

If your mouth starts to feel dry, always re-hydrate yourself for healthy teeth! Dehydration can cause a reduction in saliva, leaving your teeth vulnerable to acid attacks. Stay well hydrated before, during and after your sporting activities for maximum protection. Remember, workout drinks can contain acidic ingredients that can cause tooth erosion, particularly when consumed in small amounts over the duration of a workout.

Look out for sugars; acids and products that contain ingredients like citric acid (food numbers 330 or 331) or ascorbic acid (food number 300)! Preservatives that end in the letters ‘ate’ like sorbate can also be assumed to be acidic.

Maintaining a healthy diet is not the only way to protect your teeth while you work out and play sports. Dental injuries when playing sport happen all the time, yet they can be minimised by wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard.

Knowing your dental first aid is also very important. If you lose a tooth playing sport, follow these instructions, they could just save your smile!

• Always carry the tooth by the top, never the root

• Use water to gently remove any dirt.

• Once it is clean, keep the tooth moist by putting it back in your mouth between the cheek and the gum.

• If this isn’t possible, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth and immerse it in milk.

Try to get to your nearest dentist within an hour as every minute the tooth is out of its socket decreases the chances of it being saved.

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