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How Does Physical Activity Affect Oral Health?

Most of us know how important it is for our overall health to be as active as possible. Whether you run a marathon or simply walk 30 minutes a day several times a week, staying physically active is vital to maintaining good health. But did you know that exercise is also essential to healthy teeth and gums? It’s true! Here are a few ways in which being physically active helps you to maintain good oral health.

  • Exercise increases the production of saliva. Dry mouth is a real concern when it comes to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Without adequate saliva inside the mouth, bad bacteria is more likely to develop and thrive. And that can lead to an increase in plaque, tartar, tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Exercise reduces stress levels. We all experience stress at one time or another. One of the most common conditions that results from a higher level of stress is bruxism, or grinding your teeth. Whether you clench your teeth unconsciously throughout the day and/or grind them at night while you sleep, bruxism can wreak havoc on your oral health. Grinding your teeth can not only wear down the surface of the teeth; it can also crack and chip your teeth, increase your sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks, result in receding gums, cause nerve damage, and can even lead to tooth decay and eventual tooth loss.
  • Exercise improves your posture. You may not realize it, but poor posture also negatively impacts your oral health. This occurs when you slump your shoulders and your head moves forward. This, in turn, causes your jaw to jut out, which causes your teeth to be out of alignment. If this continues for any length of time, it can lead to problems with your jaw, toothaches, headaches, pain when you chew food or yawn, cracked teeth and uneven tooth wear.

It’s easy to forget how our oral health is directly connected to our overall health. If you suffer from poor oral health – such as severe tooth decay or gum disease, for example – it can negatively affect your overall health. The opposite is true as well. So if you have diabetes, for example, you’re more prone to developing oral health problems like gum disease. Because our oral health and our overall health is so intricately interwoven, it makes sense that anything you can do that will benefit one will also benefit the other. And that includes regular physical activity.