It seems strange to think that the time you spend in a spinning class or moving those weights around could be good for your oral health. But some studies have suggested that it is not just your legs, hips and waste that can benefit from a little sweat equity!

One study in particular out of Case Western University in the United States is quite interesting. It found that individuals who participated in regular exercise routines, maintained a healthy diet and kept their weight within a normal range were 40% less likely to suffer from gum disease.

It should obviously be pointed out that exercise alone was not responsible for the improved oral health. Individuals who performed well in this study also had a tendency to eat better. Proper nutrition is instrumental to overall health as well as oral health.

For example, healthy eating habits help build up the body’s defenses against disease. The better your nutrition, the more capable your body is to fight off common ailments such as a cold or the flu.

However, proper nutrition may also reduce the risk of gum disease by reducing the amount of plaque biofilm on the teeth. Biofilm is a build-up of bacteria. Researchers concluded that a healthy body that has been fed a nutritious diet may be better equipped to fight off the invasive bacteria in biofilm just like it would a cold or flu virus.

Exercise can also be beneficial for your oral health on a number of different levels. Firstly, exercise is vital to maintain a healthy bone density, particularly as we age. This is obviously a concern to prevent broken hips or limbs from falls.

However, good bone density also helps keep the jaw bone strong. The stronger the jaw bone, the more capable it is of supporting your teeth and keeping them in place.

Secondly, exercise has been cited as a contributing factor to reducing what is known as C-reactive protein in the blood. This protein is associated with inflammation in the heart. It is also associated with periodontal disease. In other words, what reduces the risk of heart disease may also reduce the risk of gum disease.

Obviously, eating right, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight will not be sufficient on their own to properly look after your oral health. You will still need to brush and floss daily and visit your dentist regularly.

Still it is interesting to consider how the body is so interrelated. All that fattening, high sugar food that we use to say “goes over the lips and onto the hips”? Now we can see how burning it off the hips looks after our lips!

This is just one more reason to add balance to your life with healthy eating and exercise. Because maintaining that balance is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. David Lui

Dental Surgeon