Did you play sports as a kid or teenager?
Over 45 million school-age American children play sports each year, and the benefits it yields are physical, mental, and social. However, some habits that teens engage in can be detrimental to their smiles, often without them even knowing it. Explore how Jennifer, a lifelong athlete from Westmoreland County, PA, ended up making choices that jeopardized her oral health.
As Jennifer drove to the gym that summer, her coach’s words echoed through her mind: “You’re good, but I don’t know if you’re good enough to play in college.” There’s no way her coach knew how his words would affect her, but after feeling like she was on an emotional roller coaster, Jennifer came to a decision. She would train harder than ever before for that entire summer with one goal in mind: Jennifer will make her college team as a freshman.
Jennifer had been an athlete all through high school, and she didn’t have a ton of experience with protein snacks and supplements. She did, however, love her Polar Ice Gatorade for the flavor and the fact that it replenishes electrolytes after a tough workout. She’d also buy the occasional Luna Bar because she knew they were a protein bar for women and she loved the awesome flavors. Since she was increasing her workout routine to prove to her coach that she can make the college basketball team, she decided to go all out, and ordered a case of each.
Every day when she worked out, Jennifer left it all in the gym. She did strength workouts she had never done before, all because she knew that pro players used them. Jennifer ate, slept, and breathed basketball, training for the entire summer. Leaving the gym every day, she felt more drained and exhausted with every session, but would re-moisturize her dry mouth with her colorful sports drink.
With tryouts fast-approaching, Jennifer was 100% confident she’d make the team. There’s no way those other girls trained as hard as she did, Jennifer thought to herself. Sure enough, when it was her time to show her skills, Jennifer sank her free throws, showed excellent ball handling, and ultimately made the team. As she was sitting on the bleachers listening to the coach’s pep-talk, Jennifer felt a rush of pain in the side of her mouth. Her choices caused her to make the team but also left her with unwanted cavities in her teeth.
What 3 Mistakes Led to Jennifer’s Cavities?
It’s not new for certain fitness habits to wreak havoc on a person’s oral health – It happened to Olympians in recent summer games and it happens to athletes of all ages throughout the country. Let’s explore the decisions Jennifer made that took their toll on her oral health.
1. Jennifer Chose to Hydrate with a Sugary Sports Drink
Hard training means a higher need for hydration, but if that need is met with a sugar-loaded sports drink, then you’re bathing your teeth in cavity-causing sugar with every sip. By frequently exposing her teeth to this sugar and believing it’s great for her training, Jennifer stayed hydrated, but her teeth ended up developing cavities.
2. Jennifer Relied on Sugar-Packed Protein Bars for Energy
Protein bars like Luna Bars can seem like the complete package: They have tempting flavors, vitamins, protein, and come in colorful packaging. However, by eating these products daily and depending on them to keep her satiated throughout her training, Jennifer subjected her teeth to more sugar than they were used to, resulting in tooth decay.
3. Dry Mouth Left Her Teeth Vulnerable
The final piece of the cavity puzzle occurred when Jennifer noticed that her mouth was excessively dry after training, but she chose to alleviate it by drinking her favorite sports drink. The problem with dry mouth is that it depletes your saliva, leaving your mouth defenseless and dry. Normally, saliva plays a key role in washing debris from the teeth and keeping your mouth fresh. This created the perfect conditions for developing cavities and left her mouth vulnerable to the sugars from her sports drink and protein bar.
Tips for a Workout that Won’t Harm Your Smile
- Choose water or sugar-free sports drinks for hydration
- Hydrate frequently to combat dry mouth
- Try protein bars that are sweetened with monk fruit instead of sugar
- Consider fresh portable snacks including fruits and veggies
Don’t Let Your Training Impact the Health of Your Smile
At our office in Greensburg, PA, we know that staying fit is a wise decision for people of any age. When we participate in certain activities each day, it’s worth considering how it impacts our health and the health of our smile. Often, the habits we’re active in can impact our health without us even realizing it. If you notice dental issues or are almost due for your next biannual appointment, call Dr. Kovacevic in Greensburg, PA today!