How Does Exercising Affect Oral Health?
At Smilehaven Dental Center, our number one priority as your general dentist is providing dental treatment that maintains your positive oral health. Whether it’s general treatment or cosmetic dentistry, Dr. Chan and his staff provide the very best dental treatment in La Mesa, CA, area. But as holistic dentistry, we are always looking for ways that you can improve your oral health along with your whole body health. We’ve found the perfect dual-remedy – exercise!
New Study Shows Exercise Connection To Oral Health
We all know exercise is important in maintaining our health by improving muscle strength, boosting endurance, and delivering oxygen-rich nutrients to our body. But a new study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology suggests even more benefits of a little regular physical activity. Using lab rats, researchers determined that those who exercised had healthier gums than those who did not exercise. In theory, gum disease in the form of gingivitis or periodontitis were improved with exercise.
What is Periodontitis?
To understand the importance of this research and desire to avoid or reverse the effects of periodontitis, we need to understand what it is and how to tell if you have it. Periodontitis is an infection of your gums that destroys the soft tissue and bone supporting your teeth. It develops when bacteria stick to the outside of your teeth causing the first stages of periodontitis, called gingivitis, where your gums become inflamed. Without regular brushing, this bacteria mixes with your saliva and multiplies causing the inner layer of the gum and bone to pull away from the teeth and form pockets. The bacteria then enter these openings surrounding your teeth. These small pockets between teeth and gums collect debris and can become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Periodontitis can cause teeth to loosen or fall out completely as the bacteria eats away at the bone supporting your teeth. If you experience any of these four things, you likely have periodontitis and should consult your general dentist for immediate dental treatment:
- Bleeding gums when you brush or floss
- Receding gums and pockets around your gums
- Tooth sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures
- High blood sugar
What Can Exercise Do?
While you may think tooth loss only affects your ability to chew, it is also important to remember that missing teeth can cause the other teeth in your mouth to shift and fill in the gap, which can cause many bite issues and speaking difficulties, as well as make it more difficult to keep the rest of your teeth clean. That’s why so many elect to replace missing teeth with dental implants, crowns or bridges.
While most Americans have some sort of gum disease, the good news is that it’s completely reversible if caught and treated in its early stages. Not only does deep cleaning (called scaling) as well as regular brushing and flossing can help begin the reversing process. But according to the study exercise can give a person with gum disease an extra boost. At the end of their study with the lab rats, the research team concluded that those rats that underwent physical training showed less bone and attachment loss and less inflammation compared to the more sedentary rats.
Earlier Studies Show Same Positive Results Between Exercise & Oral Health
This isn’t the first time that researchers have suggested the relationship between physical activity and periodontal health. One 2005 study identified exercise as one of three “health-enhancing behaviors” that decreased the risk of periodontitis, along with maintaining a normal weight and having a high-quality diet. Those who did all three “were 40% less likely to have periodontitis compared to individuals who maintained none of these health-enhancing behaviors.” For the rest, each additional behavior was linked to “a 16% reduction in the prevalence of periodontitis….”
Yet a different study of adults also showed that gum disease decreased with physical activity over a span of 10 years. These results suggest that engaging in the recommended level of exercise is associated with lower periodontitis prevalence, especially among never and former smokers. In fact, for former smokers, disease rates were 74% lower among those who were physically active. Among never-smokers, the decrease was about 54%. A later study of 1160 Japanese adults furthermore discovered that gum disease was least likely among those who were the most physically fit and those who were least obese. This study suggests that obesity and physical fitness may have some interactive effect on periodontal health status.
Find Holistic Dental Treatment At Smilehaven Dental Center
Dr. Chan and his friendly staff encourage you to make your next appointment at Smilehaven Dental Center in La Mesa, CA. We continue to teach our patients about the value of holistic dental practices so that they understand the connection between good oral health and the health of their entire body. It’s important to learn that activities like regular exercise can not only lower the risk of obesity, heart disease, and many other ailments, it can also reduce the risk of gum disease, which in turn reduces the risk of many other common diseases and ailments. Find out more when you make an appointment for your first visit by calling (619) 464-2801 or using our online appointment form. We can’t wait to get to know you personally and develop an individualized treatment plan for your great oral health!