Exercising regularly is shown to have a wide range of positive effects on the body. It can relieve stress, increase our mood, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, help keep excess weight off, and keep us fit. However intense endurance exercise routines such as those done by professional athletes may have a negative impact on the dental health of a person. A study done at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games on the oral health of athletes from the USA, Europe and America found that a majority of the athletes had dental or oral health problems of some kind. Laurene said this CBS News study however did not address why the athletes were experiencing such high rates of dental problems such as caries, dental erosion and periodontal diseases such as gingivitis. It was assumed that consumption of sugary sports drinks and energy bars were the culprit.
A study done at University Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany has shed some light on why athletes are more likely to experience dental problems than regular people who do not engage in intense exercise on a periodic basis. This study found that after intense, prolonged exercise athletes produced less saliva and that the makeup of their saliva become different. The saliva became more alkaline which is associated with tooth decay. Saliva has a protective effect on the mouth and teeth, so less saliva would mean a higher risk for tooth decay and other oral problems.