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Link Between Oral Health and Exercise

Link Between Oral Health and Exercise

How Working Out Can Benefit Your Oral Health

It is a well-known fact that exercise has amazing health benefits. It helps you control your weight, reduces your risk of heart disease, helps your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels, can help you quit smoking, improves mental health and mood, improves your oral health, strengthens bones and muscles, reduces risks of some cancers, and can even increase your lifespan. You might not think of your smile right away when you think of the benefits of exercise, but the truth is that the health of all our body parts is interconnected. Exercise improves your oral health in many of the same ways that it works in other parts of the body, including the following:

  • Alleviates stress to reduce teeth grinding

Exercise and other physical activities are known to produce endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. Endorphins also improve your ability to sleep, which reduces stress as well. If stress is not minimized through activities like exercising, the result can be habitual teeth grinding. Over time, teeth grinding can lead to a jaw disorder known as TMD, or temporomandibular disorder, which leads to jaw pain, difficulty chewing, and clicking and locking of the jaw joint. Grinding your teeth also causes your enamel to wear thin, which can lead to tooth decay, sensitivity, cavities, and even tooth loss. In these ways, implementing a regular exercise routine can help preserve your teeth.

  • Improves posture to maintain alignment

Because your teeth are a part of your skeletal system, bite alignment and posture are much more related than you might think. When you slouch due to factors like poor core stability, your jaw is pushed forward and your skull sits further back on the spinal column than it should. This effect causes your bite to be misaligned. If your teeth are not aligned properly, your jaw will need to do extra work, which can stress the jaw joints and TMJ, causing damage to your teeth over time.

On the other hand, exercising frequently can improve your core stability and posture, which can help prevent these problems in the first place. Exercises that strengthen the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips, and abdomen will lead to improved balance, stability, and posture. Some of the best exercises to achieve this include:

  • Single leg extensions

This move trains your core muscles to work together and stabilizes your pelvis. For this move, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Place your hands behind your head. Once you are in this position, press your lower back onto the floor and curl your head off the floor, then pull your navel towards your spine. Do all of this while extending the other leg at about a 45-degree angle.

The move itself involves keeping your ab muscles pulled in and your lower back on the floor, and alternating legs with five to ten extensions on each side. Stabilizing your core will improve your posture, which will help you maintain dental alignment.

  • Crunch

Similarly, to begin this move, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat, pressing your lower back into the floor. Your hands will go behind your head again, but this time, reach your arms toward your knees, pull your navel in towards your spine, and curl your head and shoulders slowly off the floor. Hold this position, slowly lower your spine, and repeat. The focus of crunches is mainly on the abdominal muscles, so it is a muscle-isolating exercise that is beneficial for posture.

  • Yoga sit-up

To do a yoga sit-up, lay flat on the floor facing upwards. Keep your thighs together, flex your feet and toes, extend your knees, and press your lower back into the floor. Once you are in this position, flex the head towards the chest. Roll up the spine one vertebrae at a time until you are sitting upright. Overall, yoga positions tend to help posture because they make you stronger, more flexible, and help you develop core strength.

  • Cobra pose

Cobra pose is another yoga pose that can lead to healthy posture. For this position, lay on your stomach and place your palms on the ground beneath your shoulders. Next, lift your chest up by straightening your arms. To complete the pose, you can bring your forehead to the ground and engage your gluteal and back muscles. Cobra pose is well-known for a variety of benefits, many of which intertwine with good posture and good oral health. These benefits include strengthening your chest, lungs, shoulders, and abdomen, toning the buttocks, stimulating the abdominal organs, helping relieve stress and fatigue, opening the heart and lungs, soothing sciatica, and alleviating asthma symptoms.

  • Increases saliva flow

Another way that exercise promotes good oral health is by increasing saliva flow.

Studies have shown that saliva secretion increases after ten minutes of exercise. One study published in the Archives of Oral Biology showed that salivary flow rates increased even further with high intensity exercise. This process is helpful to oral health because if the mouth goes dry, bacteria is able to thrive. An overly dry mouth can also lead to plaque buildup, tooth decay, mouth sores, and even gum disease. Exercising regularly will increase your saliva flow and help prevent these problems.

Complete Dentistry and Whole-Body Health

Many people view their dental health separately from their overall health, but the truth is that the two are very closely intertwined. Maintaining healthy habits like a regular exercise routine has the potential to improve all aspects of your health, including your oral health. At Eastman Dental Care, we offer a full range of comprehensive dental care to meet your individual needs. This means that we keep your overall health and your oral health in mind. We can perform comprehensive exams in order to gain a full understanding of your needs and expectations, so we can continue to meet all of them throughout the course of your treatment.

To learn more about the difference that comprehensive dentistry can make in your health, call us today at (319) 670-2030 or contact us online.

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