Background: Little attention has been directed towards identifying the relationship between physical exercise, dental erosive wear and salivary secretion. The study aimed i) to describe the prevalence and severity of dental erosive wear among a group of physically active young adults, ii) to describe the patterns of dietary consumption and lifestyle among these individuals and iii) to study possible effect of exercise on salivary flow rate.
Methods: Young members (age range 18-32 years) of a fitness-centre were invited to participate in the study. Inclusion criteria were healthy young adults training hard at least twice a week. A non-exercising comparison group was selected from an ongoing study among 18-year-olds. Two hundred and twenty participants accepted an intraoral examination and completed a questionnaire. Seventy of the exercising participants provided saliva samples. The examination was performed at the fitness-centre or at a dental clinic (comparison group), using tested erosive wear system (VEDE). Saliva sampling (unstimulated and stimulated) was performed before and after exercise. Occlusal surfaces of the first molars in both jaws and the labial and palatal surfaces of the upper incisors and canines were selected as index teeth.
Results: Dental erosive wear was registered in 64% of the exercising participants, more often in the older age group, and in 20% of the comparison group. Enamel lesions were most observed in the upper central incisors (33%); dentine lesions in lower first molar (27%). One fourth of the participants had erosive wear into dentine, significantly more in males than in females (p = 0.047). More participants with erosive wear had decreased salivary flow during exercise compared with the non-erosion group (p < 0.01). The stimulated salivary flow rate was in the lower rage (≤ 1 ml/min) among more than one third of the participants, and more erosive lesions were registered than in subjects with higher flow rates (p < 0.01).
Conclusion: The study showed that a high proportion of physically active young adults have erosive lesions and indicate that hard exercise and decreased stimulated salivary flow rate may be associated with such wear.