With all of the physical activity that athletes do, you might be inclined to think that they are likely to be in better health, including oral health.
The truth is, however, that even though athletes may be in better physical health, their oral health tends to be worse than the rest of the general population, and they are more prone to gum disease. But why?
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a serious condition. It starts out as gingivitis, which presents itself as red, swollen gums that may bleed when you brush and floss. As it progresses, bacteria fall below the gum line and attack your teeth and jawbone.
Eventually, your teeth become loose and may even fall out. While poor oral hygiene is usually the cause of gum disease, certain factors, such as being an athlete, can increase your chances of experiencing it as well.
Bruxism is a condition in which you clench and/or grind your teeth. When you do this, not only do you wear away the enamel of your teeth, you also cause your gums to recede. Wearing away enamel allows bacteria to more easily get inside the tooth, while gum recession gives bacteria access below the gums.
Saliva is your mouth's natural defense against bacteria. When you have been running for a substantial amount of time, or you become dehydrated, saliva production slows down. Without sufficient saliva, your mouth becomes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria that cause gum disease.
Contact sports come with certain risks. One of these risks is getting hit in the mouth, which can cause damage to your teeth, including cracking or chipping. These injuries provide hiding places for microscopic bacteria to hide, and are not easily removed, which allows them to damage your teeth and your gums.
Whether you are an athlete or not, taking care of your mouth is important. However, if you are an athlete, you must take extra precautions to keep your mouth clean and visit your dentist on a regular basis, which will help you to detect gum disease early or prevent it altogether.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at (972) 315-2345 today.