Can Exercise Affect Oral Health?

A study published in the British Dental Journal suggests that non-smokers who exercise regularly have a 54% lower chance of developing gum disease than people that don’t exercise! This finding would suggest that yes, exercise affects oral health- specifically gum health. Interestingly, the same study found that non-smokers who only exercised 3 times a week may still benefit from a 33% lower likelihood of developing gum disease. So even if you don’t exercise daily, just 3x per week still shows a small effect on lowering your risk of periodontitis. Yet it’s also crucial to note that just exercise alone won’t prevent you from developing gum disease! You still need to brush your teeth twice daily, floss daily, and have regular dental cleanings and exams to prevent periodontal disease.

Why Might Exercise Impact Oral Health?

There are certainly some social components that may suggest that those who exercise daily may place a greater value on wellness in general. Because of the value they place on their well-being, they likely also place greater value on their oral health as well. This increased emphasis on overall wellness suggests that these same people are more inclined to be vigilant with their dental hygiene (including brushing twice a day, flossing, and visiting the dentist at least every 6 months).

Additionally, there are theories that pose that any sort of increase in blood flow to the gums may help ward off gum disease-causing bacteria. This is because a lot of the bacteria in the mouth are “anaerobic” bacteria, meaning that they thrive without oxygen. Blood flow brings oxygen directly to the gums, and that oxygen can actually kill a lot of the anaerobic bacteria present. Because exercise increases blood flow in the body, consistent daily exercise may indirectly impact oral health in a good way.

What If Everyone Exercised Everyday? Would We All Have Healthy Gums?

If 100% of the world’s population exercised daily, would 100% of the world’s population have completely healthy gums? Based on some of these findings, you might think that- but the answer is no. Even if 100% of the world brushed their teeth, flossed their teeth, and exercised daily, there is still no guarantee that there’d be no gum disease present among the population. This is partially because diet plays a factor, and genetics may also play a role too. Nevertheless, adding daily exercise into your routine likely won’t hurt, and if there’s a link between exercising more and having better oral health, then why not start exercising daily? (unless of course, your doctor tells you not to).

Disclaimer: This blog article is in no way meant to replace medical advice that’s been given to you by your healthcare provider. It is purely for educational purposes only.

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