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6 Bad Habits of Runners That Can Damage Teeth

Young people running along beach boardwalk

At the office of Dr. Marzban, we love running. Well, individually, some of us may love running more and others may love it less. But as an office, we make it an important part of our community contribution, participating in runs to help fund worthy charities. We even sponsor some of our patients to participate!

And there’s no doubt that running can be very good for your overall health, helping to stimulate your heart, lungs, muscles, and bones to help you stay healthy and active as you get older. But sometimes runners aren’t always taking their teeth into account when they run. Here are six bad habits of runners that can seriously damage their teeth.

Bad Habit #1: Sugar Rushing

Running demands high energy reserves, but many runners don’t have that much in reserve. So what do they do to help boost their energy on the trail? They consume some fuel. Unfortunately, that fuels is often high in sugar, which can also fuel oral bacteria.

We know, when you’re heading into the second half of your marathon, you need a little something to boost yourself. You don’t have to give up sugar-based fuels altogether, just be smarter with them. Use fuels that are readily soluble and don’t stay in your mouth. Then rinse your mouth with water.

This not only protects your teeth: it means that you get more of the energy and not your oral bacteria.

Bad Habit #2: Acidic Sports Drinks

When you’re running, you sweat. And that sweat is more than water, so you need more than water to replenish yourself. At least, that’s what sports drinks advertisements say.

The truth is that sports drinks aren’t necessary most of the time when you’re running. And they can be very harmful to your teeth. The drinks are highly acidic: they can erode your tooth enamel. And they often contain sugar, too, so they fuel the bloom of bacteria.

Both the acid and the sugar are more dangerous, too, because you’re drinking them while running, which means that your mouth is dry–there’s less saliva to neutralize acid.

Drink water most of the time when running. When you do feel like you need something more than water, chase your sports drink with water to rinse your teeth.

Bad Habit #3: Chewy Energy Bars

There are many products out there sold as ways to give your body the materials it needs to sustain muscle growth and activity. This includes energy bars, which are often hard and sticky. Sometimes these are harder than damaging candies like taffy or toffee. These hard energy bars can potentially damage or dislodge your old restorations. And even if they don’t damage restorations, they can cling to your teeth, providing oral bacteria with long-term energy to fuel decay in your teeth.

Just avoid these energy bars. As we said: stick to nutrient formulations that don’t stick to your teeth.

Bad Habit #4: Dehydration

It’s easy to get dehydrated when you’re running, especially in the hot, humid climate of Fairfax County. Unfortunately, dehydration can suppress your body’s production of saliva. Saliva is your body’s natural defense against oral bacteria, so when it’s diminish, you have less defense against them.

Make sure you’re getting enough hydration when you’re running. Again, focus mostly on water. You don’t have to follow any particular consumption amounts, but you should consume enough water that you never actually feel thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty, you’re starting to get dehydrated.

Bad Habit #5: Opening Packets and Bottles with Teeth

We know: you’re trying to hit your best time.When you’re doing that, taking the time to look down and properly open packets and bottles can slow you down, so you avoid it. Instead, you just rely on your teeth, which can do the job.

Unfortunately, this time of biting and tearing behavior can be very damaging to your teeth. Resist the temptation to tear these with your teeth. Open them properly, even if this means looking down for a moment to do it.

Bad Habit #6: Grinding Teeth During a Workout

Your teeth actually have a very important role to play in your body’s strength and stability. Your jaw helps anchor muscles of the head and neck, and your teeth help anchor your jaw.

If your jaw isn’t in a proper position, you’re likely to end up grinding your teeth while trying to maximize your efforts.

We offer many approaches to treating this. A mouthguard can protect your teeth. Often myofunctional therapy can help you learn how to properly utilize tongue and jaw muscles to keep your jaw in the proper place. Sometimes, TMJ treatment can be used as well to improve results.

Make Running Good for You

Running is good for your overall health. It can be made good for your oral health, too, if you follow the above tips.

Are you looking for a dentist in Fairfax county, VA for help maintaining optimal oral health? Please call 703-323-8200 today for an appointment with Dr. Marzban, DDS in Burke, VA.