Don't forget to brush your teeth

Kind of posting this as incentive for myself to start a routine, but might be helpful for others too. Maybe the podcast guys could include a reminder too with all their carb worshipping.

We all talk about 2:1 ratios and which gels are the best and gummy bears and 90g of carbs (aka sugar) per hour and the power/RPE advantages. I’ve never heard the downside of cavities and decaying teeth discussed though. I remember reading an article years ago about how endurance athletes are more susceptible to those issues because of all the sugar consumed, and how it tends to linger in our mouths because of excess saliva (?). We’re all basically eating like unsupervised 8 year old boys for 2hrs a day…then I’ll have a protein shake and maybe a post ride meal… And go about the rest of my day.

I imagine getting in a routine of ride, protein shake, brush teeth would make all our dentists much happier. Been mostly cavity free to this point, would be nice to stay that way.


It’s already too late when you brush your teeth post-workout. I know, I had to pay the price (literally).

There is a simple solution though: take two bottles on your bike. One with carbs, one with pure water. After every sip of carbs take a sip from the water bottle and rinse and swallow. Furthermore, I “shoot” the carbs into the throat with minimal teeth contact.

Pure carb drinking is reserved for racing.


Wow, these are really 1st world problems. Never ever thought of that. But fair enough, lets brush, cant do no harm.

1 Like

So weird I thought about this yesterday and the first thing I did post-ride was rinse my mouth with mouth wash.

I will see your bottle strategy and raise you one bottle of carb, one bottle of mouthwash.


with the added benefit of getting pissed, if you drink enough Listerine :smiley:


Had the exact same issue, and the exact same response from my dentist. For my part, I go with water only and carb gels, rinsing after every gel pack. Ugh, what a nasty surprise side effect of training hard.

A winners smile does not need teeth


I think there is a conspiracy here, whereby us “normal” riders are funding all of the dentist’s bikes via our carb drinks and subsequent cavities. I’m just saying … :man_shrugging:


You can also use energy drinks with “tooth safe” sugars like High 5 Slow Release.

Google isomaltulose if you’re curious about the particular sugar.

1 Like

If you can’t somehow incorporate Bill Gates and/or Mobile phones into this conspiracy then I’m sorry but I’m not buying it.


Interesting, a few days after this thread I have now acquired an extremely painful toothache making it impossible to get a full nights sleep and obviously disturbing my training. The toothache is no doubt attributed to the amount of sugar I’ve been consuming to fuel my training despite brushing and mouth wash twice a day.

I’m under the impression mouthwashes and hard liquor shots end up killing off all the oral bacteria, but the ‘bad’ ones rebound faster. My teeth end up feeling super scummy surprisingly quickly afterwards. Same for when I was using a toothpaste that happened to have triclosan in it. Switched to a baking soda toothpaste and stopped using alcohol based mouthwashes. I’m much happier for it.

1 Like

As a dentist here are the potential problems and possible solutions. Possible Chad/Amber style deep dive but bear with me as is complex problem. Sorry if it is a bit incoherent as I haven’t prepared the answer in advance.

  1. High frequency consumption of processed carbohydrates esp simple sugars is problematic for our teeth for 2 reasons.
    Firstly the carbohydrates are the preferred food for the bacteria in our mouth. These process the sugars releasing acid as a by-product. This acid softens our teeth by causing the hydroxyapatite in our teeth to dissolve, softening the surface of our teeth. Our saliva then acts to remineralize our teeth by neutralising the acid. This can take 20min to over an hour depending on the quality of our saliva and whether or not we have become dehydrated. If we are dehydrated our body preserves moisture by many reasons including reducing saliva flow.
    Tooth decay is a slow process where the balance in your mouth is disrupted and the saliva is not able to remineralize your teeth before the next attack and slowly the teeth become softer further in and eventually a physical hole occurs. At this stage someone like me is needed to fix it. This could be for 2 main reasons. Either your diet is out of whack and you keep shoving processed carbohydrates in your mouth and your body has no hope of dealing with it. If you drink multiple coffees a day with sugar this could be you. Secondly if you are missing spots when you clean the type of bacteria changes and essentially becomes much more harmful in these spots eg in between your teeth when you don’t floss. This can create areas where there is a biofilm the saliva can’t penetrative to neutralise the acid.

  2. Direct acid attack. The majority of these drinks especially if they are prefirmulated are acidic. These can directly soften the surface of your teeth making them more susceptible to damage and in some cases directly eroding the surface of your teeth.


  1. Clean your teeth before your ride. You need the bacteria, their food and time to cause decay. So if you remove the bacteria with physical cleaning they cannot cause decay.
  2. Do not clean your teeth after riding as they are softer and scrubbing with a toothbrush especially with toothpaste as it contains abrasives can cause wear.
  3. If you are especially worried rinsing with bicarb as mentioned earlier in the thread can help neutralise the acid.
  4. Again as mentioned previously in thread rinsing with water after the carbohydrates drink can help rinse some of it off and dilute any acid.
  5. Frequency is the issue so it is more likely to be a problem on longer rides and if your non riding diet is not what it should be.
  6. Finally what is best for health does not always equal what is best for health. This applies to your teeth as much as the rest of your body. You have to decide where you wish to sit on that spectrum but in my opinion if the rest of your diet is good, and you take some simple precautions using carbohydrate drinks to fuel high intensity exercise is unlikely to cause any great issues for your teeth.
    Long winded I know but hopefully it makes sense and is helpful to someone.

Really helpful, thanks. My dentist told me my teeth needed time to recover between sugary foods, good to know what that actually means!

Thanks for taking time to write this excellent reply. I’ll start brushing before I ride from now on. Not after.

Oh my goodness, I’ve been doing this backwards while being proud of my good dental hygiene :laughing: :woman_facepalming:

1 Like

Just wanted to plug a sports drink I started using and am very happy with. High 5 Slow Release.

The only sugar in it is isomaltulose, which is a “tooth safe” sugar according to the American Dental Association. I found it and started using it in December, especially for anything over 2hrs - flavor is good, if you like relatively low levels of sweetness.

I do everything the dentist above recommended and have started using this drink. Like the OP, I had my first cavity in years after seriously starting to ride my bike and consume more sugar water.

I guess there may be a reason to dope with bicarb after all. Just keep a toilet handy.

This thread is like a reminder. I was browsing this thread late at night yesterday and didn’t feel like brushing my teeth. So, HUGE thanks for creating this thread, guys! Btw, how often do you see your dentist? Last Friday, I went to my dentist at Implant Dentistry in Bay Village Ohio - The Healthy Smile. It was the first time in 2 years I saw him. He advised me to see him more often. Otherwise, my teeth will just fall out. Though it’s a joke, it scares me every time I feel lazy to brush my teeth.