Overall Health

Cavities and exercise
What Do Cavities And Exercise Have In Common?
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You wouldn’t think tooth decay is related to exercise, but they do have a common link! Exercising may not have a direct effect on your cavities, but a chemical called lactic acid plays a role in both. Why is this worth mentioning? Well, many of my patients have often expressed the idea that develops teeth cavities by coming in contact with sugar. While sugar can eventually lead to decay, it does not do it through direct exposure. So how do teeth form cavities? From bacteria!

Lactic Acid

Bacteria exist everywhere. We have bacteria on our skin, in our intestines, and even in our mouth. Some bacteria, like Streptococcus Mutans, break down sugars and fermentable carbohydrates from the foods we eat and make lactic acid as a byproduct. The same lactic acid that our muscles produce when we workout. The bacteria then excrete this lactic acid onto the surface of our teeth, slowly breaking down the enamel into soft, decayed tissue.
When working out, the lactate produced can be repurposed into glucose and used as fuel for the entire body including the muscles, heart, and brain. Lactate is also metabolized in the mitochondria and used as powerful fuel for muscle contractions during workouts. It’s interesting to think that the same chemical that helps our bodies when we’re working out, can cause so much trouble in our mouths!

Preventing Cavities

By brushing and flossing regularly, you remove food debris from your mouth and deprive bacteria like S. Mutans of their food source. It’s not the act of limiting sugar contact with teeth, but proper hygiene that really helps prevent tooth decay. Brushing and flossing every day might seem like a tiresome chore, but doing this a few minutes a day—along with regular visits to the dentist—will ensure that you keep your teeth healthy for a long, long time.
If you’re not completely sure how to brush or floss properly, come on down to Highline Dental. Our skilled dentist, Dr. Kim, would be more than happy to show you the proper way to keep your teeth looking their best!