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Unexplained cavity? Your workout may be to blame

Brushing Teeth

 (iStock)

Runners and triathletes are pretty dang healthy, right? Ok, they may have a busted-up knee or hip here and there, but other than that they’re doing better than most people. Well, it turns out that non-athletes may have a leg up in one area of wellness: oral health.

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In a new study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, researchers found that triathletes have significantly higher levels of tooth erosion than non-athletes. And those who trained more often had more cavities than athletes who trained less.

The researchers point to two potential culprits: First, endurance athletes consume a high number of carbohydrates in the forms of gels, bars and sports drinks—and carbs can alter the mouth’s natural, tooth-protecting pH level. Second, when you’re exercising really hard, you tend to breathe through your mouth, which dries it out and leads you to produce less saliva—again, removing a critical tooth-protecting tool. 

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Before you endurance athletes out there worry too much, know that the researchers have your back—the German research team, led by two scientists who moonlight as a marathoner and a triathlete (so badass!), is currently testing special toothpastes and mouth rinses on athletes to see if a dental hygiene product applied before training and competing could provide sufficient protection.

In the meantime, drink plenty of water—and consider a post-training tooth-brushing session.

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This article originally appeared on Self.com.