Tooth Decay and Running: How are These Two Connected?

Tooth Decay and Running

Runners are often considered healthy individuals since they engage in activities good for the body. After all, getting enough exercise is necessary for a healthy body. Runners and athletes in general are often considered as the ones who care about their overall well-being, and it’s not just the running that improves their physical strength but their balanced diet also contribute to it.

Tooth Decay and Running

However, there’s one thing that runners often overlook—their dental health.

What’s causing the tooth decay

Studies show that there’s a high risk of oral cavities and other oral dental issues among athletes, as observed in the athletes who participated in the 2012 Summer Olympics. A more detailed study testing the athletes’ teeth and spit after a workout show that their training affect it.

Researches initially thought that the energy drinks and sports bars that athletes consume on a regular were causing the issue, but there were no studies that couldn’t prove its correlation to tooth decay.

To clearly see what’s causing the dental problem, other tests were conducted in which athletes had to do strenuous running several times. The athletes’ saliva and teeth were analyzed, and it showed that greater erosion of the teeth enamel was evident.

As an athlete’s training time grew and as more hours were spent working out, there’s a likelier chance that the athlete has more cavities. It was due to the alkaline on the saliva that causes this, as there’s more of it the more the athlete runs.

Endurance runners are also in danger of poor oral health, according to the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. As athletes spend more time working out, the mouth produces less saliva as the mouth gets dry. This results to dry mouth which causes cavities and dental erosion.

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Tips for Runners

However, this doesn’t mean that high endurance running should be avoided at all cost. The studies mentioned earlier involved athletes who undergo intensive weekly training, thus, they have heightened risk of poor dental health.

To avoid tooth decay that can lead to athletes needing dental implants way too early in life, here are some tips for better oral health:


  • Keep hydrated throughout your workout. Avoid dry mouth by making sure that you drink enough water when you go for a run. Make sure to stop by the refueling stations, and always bring water with you when you go running. Also, consume water not just during exercise but also before and after.
  • Thoroughly rinse your mouth after consuming sweets. This includes sports drinks and bars that athletes consume regularly. If refueling stations during marathons provide sports drink, you can take a sip but make sure to rinse with water afterwards.
  • Replace your sugary snacks with real food. Protein bars may be giving you endurance during your workout but food such as bananas and peanut butter energy bars are better alternative.
  • Find out which sealants and fluoride treatments are good for you. For endurance runners, simple maintenance won’t just cut it.


  1. Consult a dentist. Having a specialist who can monitor your dental condition and give proper condition is especially critical if you run professionally.

While running may be causing tooth decay, there’s no reason to stop doing so as long as you take the necessary measures to prevent the build up of cavities.

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