Walk your way to better oral health

Want to improve your smile? A quick walk may be the answer! In addition to boosting your mood and creativity, walking can have some pretty sweet effects on your oral health.

Fewer sugar cravings

Fifteen-minute walks have been shown to reduce sugar cravings. When you take a bite of something sweet, bacteria in your mouth turn that sugar into acid. Over time and with enough exposure, acid can eat away at tooth enamel and lead to cavities. Walking makes it easier to ignore those cookies sitting in the break room.

Enhanced immunity

Walking just 20 minutes a day, five days a week, can boost your immune system, and that’s good news for your oral health. A healthy immune system helps protect your mouth against diseases like periodontal disease, which can cause red, swollen and tender gums that are more likely to bleed when you brush.

Reduced stress

In addition to affecting your general well-being, too much stress can be detrimental to your oral health, sometimes resulting in a neglect of oral hygiene habits. This can increase your risk for cavities and periodontal disease. Stress can also cause people to grind their teeth, leading to a host of possible problems like jaw pain, headaches, gum recession and tooth sensitivity. Walking has been proven to help by serving as a distraction from worrying thoughts and releasing endorphins into the brain that reduce pain perception and generate a positive physical feeling.

Walking is a great addition to a workout routine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intensely vigorous exercise every week. Plus, research published in the Journal of Dentistry showed that among people who never smoked, those who got the recommended amount of exercise were 54 percent less likely to have periodontal disease than people who didn’t exercise at all.

So, do your oral health and your mood a favor by enjoying a relaxing walk. Just make sure to hydrate before and after with water, and to apply sunscreen as well as lip balm with an SPF 30+ rating before heading out into the sun.