What was different this time, apart from it being the longest training run I have ever done (would normally peak at about 30-32 for an ordinary marathon), was that I had something new and slightly bothering to think about. I was trying to motivate myself to take in enough nutrition, that is hard enough at the best of times but I had been to the dentist on Friday, something hurt, I wanted it fixed and to get on with life as usual. This time the dentist, who was a very nice lady actually, tapped and pecked at not only the sore tooth but a couple at the front of my mouth as well. These don't look right she kept saying and an xray confirmed her instincts, I had three fairly extensive cavities in strange places between teeth that normally don't tend to have such problems. Do you eat too many sweets, cakes, etc? No, well, no more than usual, in fact less than I used to was how the discussion developed. How strange she pondered, but then I had one of those dreaded 'aha' type moments and figured out where the conversation would end, I said...how about...energy gels.
Some time later with a lighter purse, appointments for further work and a bottle of high-fluoride mouthwash, I got home and checked on the internet. Once I had weeded out all of the references to teeth on bike chain-rings and such, there was plenty on endurance athletes and their dental woes, even some pretty robust looking research from university type places. Turns out that dehydration, mouth breathing, high sugar consumption, altered acidity levels in saliva from all the exertion is deadly to tooth enamel. And the longer you run (bike or whatever), the worse the problem.
So the recommendations (from different sources):
- Avoid sports-drinks - I do that already most of the time
- If drinking sports-drinks use a straw - yep, I can just see me doing that, where did I put that straw?
- Avoid energy gels - not an option at this point
- Use teeth safe electrolyte drinks such as unsweetened coconut water - maybe for cycling
- Use teeth safer energy sources such as raisins - already do for cycling, doesn't work for running
- Drink water to rinse after electrolyte drinks and energy gels - already do
- Re-hydrate sooner with water when finished running - I try to do this, its hard!
- Brush and mouthwash after finishing runs - must remember
- Chewing gum - um...perhaps not while running up a hill?