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Marathon running – but am I protecting my teeth?
Blog /Advice

Marathon running – but am I protecting my teeth?

Running a marathon can have huge impacts on our bodies. And as we enter marathon season, we take a closer look at how it could affect our oral health

As runners have just crossed the finishing line at the London Marathon last weekend, many people across the UK will be inspired and strapping on their trainers and getting out there to raise money for charity during this year's marathon season.

Running a marathon is an intense physical activity that requires months of preparation, dedication, and discipline.

While many people focus on the physical benefits of running a marathon, such as weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, and increased muscle mass, few consider the potential impact it may have on their oral health. However, recent studies have shown that running a marathon can have a significant impact on oral health, ranging from dehydration to dental erosion.

So with that in mind, we decided to take a quick look at how it impacts our smile.

How does it impact our teeth?

How does it impact our teeth?

One of the primary concerns associated with running a marathon is dehydration

Contact Pond Square if you would like to discuss any concerns with your dentist.

When the body is dehydrated, it produces less saliva, which can lead to a dry mouth. A dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease because saliva plays a vital role in neutralising the acid produced by bacteria in the mouth.

Without enough saliva, these acids can erode tooth enamel and cause cavities. Additionally, a dry mouth can also cause bad breath, which is not something you want to be considering when you’re hugging friends and family once you cross the finish line.

Another factor that can contribute to oral health issues in marathon runners is the consumption of sports drinks and energy gels.

While these products can provide much-needed fuel and hydration during a race, they can also be highly acidic and sugary. The acidity of these products can cause dental erosion, which can lead to sensitive teeth, tooth decay, and discolouration.

Additionally, the sugar content in these products can feed the bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to cavities and gum disease.

Finally, running a marathon can also lead to stress, which can impact oral health in a variety of ways.

Stress can cause a range of physical symptoms, including teeth grinding, which can lead to enamel erosion and tooth sensitivity. Additionally, stress can weaken the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off infections, including those in the mouth.

Protecting your teeth

Protecting your teeth

So, what can marathon runners do to protect their oral health?

The first and most important step is to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water throughout the race can help keep the mouth moist and reduce the risk of dehydration.

Runners should avoid consuming too many sports drinks and energy gels, which can be highly acidic and sugary. Instead, opt for water or a sugar-free electrolyte drink when possible.

Another way to protect oral health during a marathon is to practise good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing regularly can help remove food particles and bacteria from the mouth, reducing the risk of cavities and gum disease. Additionally, using a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash can help strengthen tooth enamel and protect against decay.

Finally, runners may want to consider using a mouthguard to protect their teeth during the race. A mouthguard can help reduce the risk of tooth damage from accidental impacts or teeth grinding, which can occur during a marathon.

Running a marathon is a huge achievement for many people and is the culmination of months of training. But we shouldn’t forget the impact it can also have on our oral health.

However, by staying hydrated, avoiding sugary snacks and practising good oral hygiene, marathon runners can protect their teeth and gums and ensure their oral health remains strong throughout the race.

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