Dental health and the Triathlete

Feb 2, 2019 6:42:54 PM
2 min read

Poor dental health: a common trait among triathletes

Although your doctor might be enthusiastic about you being a triathlete - with a low resting heart rate and excellent cardiovascular health - your dentist might think otherwise.

Recent studies have shown that poor dental health is very common among athletes. A study of 350 UK top level Olympians, including Team Sky, concluded that over 49 percent had untreated tooth decay. 77 percent had gingivitis (an early indicator of gum disease) and 39 percent self-reported to have bleeding gums while cleaning their teeth, a sign of gum inflammation.

More than a third of the interviewees said these conditions negatively impacted their sporting performance, along with their ability to eat, relax and sleep.

The conclusions are clear: besides the obvious aesthetical impact, poor teeth negatively impact your performance and can put your body in a state of inflammation. 

What causes this poor dental health?

Do triathletes pay less attention to good dental hygiene? Do they brush or floss their teeth less often?

Of course not. The cause of poor dental health can be found in the nature of their training.

The following factors greatly affect a triathlete's dental health:

Increased air flow

The heavy breathing involved in triathlon can cause the mouth to become very dry, which has a negative impact on the enamel. Saliva plays a vital role in protecting teeth as it dilutes and clears liquids at the tooth surface. It neutralizes acids in the mouth and provides a mineral source including calcium and phosphate for remineralisation (enamel hardening).


Triathletes are prone to dehydration. You may already know about the negative impact of dehydration on performance (if not, make sure to download our free e-book on hydration). Your teeth are also affected by a reduced saliva flow, producing a more acidic environment for your teeth with negative effect on tooth enamel.

Acidic drinks and food

As a triathlete, you need carbohydrates to fuel your training and races. Often, these carbs are ingested in the form of a sports drink, which is a good practice (as you can read here). Unfortunately, many sports drinks are highly acidic. Moreover, triathletes often have very long training sessions of several hours. As a result, the contact time of these acidic drinks and the teeth can be very long. These acids dissolve tooth enamel, making the teeth more vulnerable.

What can you do to keep your teeth healthy?

  • Practice good dental hygiene: brush and floss at least twice a day. Consider brushing an extra time about 60 minutes after a hard workout with lots of heavy breathing.
  • Stay hydrated: keeping a healthy saliva flow going will keep the acidity of your mouth low.
  • Drink water after your gels: this will avoid them sticking to your teeth.
  • Drink with a straw: when possible, use a straw to minimize contact time with the teeth, or use your bottle to squirt your sports drink into your mouth.
  • Use a pH-friendly sports drink: learn more about the importance of the pH of your sports drink here, and choose yours wisely.
  • Add calcium to your diet: calcium remineralizes teeth, strengthening the enamel. Make sure to get it from milk, yogurt , cheese or other sources.

Does HIDDIT pay attention to tooth health?

We do! Our Isotonic drink has an optimal pH and has added calcium to eliminate the negative effect on tooth enamel. Studies have shown this formula to have as little effect on tooth enamel as drinking plain water!

Want to give it a try? Visit our shop now!

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