08 February 2016, 2PM

Are your teeth affecting your performance?

Are your teeth affecting your performance?

While your teeth won’t necessarily help improve your performance or win a triathlon, they could definitely help you lose one.

A sore tooth which causes mild or acute pain can greatly hinder you from performing at your peak, whether by simply taking your mind off the game or from the reduced hydration by avoiding yet another painful sip.

Unless you’ve come unstuck at some stage and had a bitumen sandwich, tooth pain and decay aren’t usually things that come up in conversation when talking Tri-sports. But as our mates at Regal’s Dental surely know, there is a direct correlation.

Tooth decay occurs when oral bacteria gets hyped on sugary carbs in your diet and produces lactic acid, this in turn churns out plaque that chomps off the protective calcium on your teeth. If this happens enough, a cavity will form. Once the cavity is there the bacteria can then have their way with the exposed nerve, which is not usually an enjoyable feeling.

So why tooth decay and Tri-Sports? Well, the two main culprits are both fairly obvious once known.

1. Diet
Eating food and drink high in carbohydrates, particularly snacking regularly between meals, will increase your risk of tooth decay.
By constantly refuelling on the amounts of carb we need during training and events we’re also feeding the bacteria which can lead to decay.

2. Dry Mouth
People who have lower levels of saliva in their mouth are at higher risk of developing tooth decay.
We run hard in Tri-sports and we breathe hard as well. Couple this evaporative moisture loss with your body somewhat ignoring your gastric system during exercise and you end up with dry mouth. As saliva is your mouths primary defence against decay, by neutralising acidity and protein, without it the bacteria can run amok.

So does this mean we should stop training and just drink water for the rest of our lives? Definitely not!

The good news here is, without sounding like your Mum, that simple oral hygiene is your best defence in keeping your mouth in check. This is achieved simply by balancing the times that your teeth are under stress and losing calcium with times of repair for it to rebuild. Just like we do for the rest of our bodies when training!

Some simple routines are:
• Brush and floss your teeth twice a day (yes Mum) and also before a training session.
• Use a soft brush and a fluoride toothpaste – or a specialist paste which helps rebuild enamel.
• Don’t brush within the hour after training as your tooth enamel will be weaker.
• Use sugar free gum to help stimulate saliva.

All of these things sound easy, probably because they are. The magic word we’ve used above is ‘routine’, build anything into your training schedule as a routine and it becomes less of a chore.

If you’ve not visited your dentist in six months or so then it’s definitely time to make an appointment, just to make sure your mouth is healthy and not setting you up for a loss.

A big shout out at this point to the very sporty family team at Regal’s Dental, one of our Major Sponsors.  You help us all keep smiling, not necessarily always from winning races though!


Training Peaks. Blog article. How Endurance Training Can Harm Your Teeth. Feb 2015
ETP America. Web Article. Triathlete Decay: Are your teeth slowing you down?
National Health Service Online. Tooth Decay Causes

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