Here’s an interesting issue amongst elite athletes:
A new study found that oral health may be a significant problem amongst elite athletes.
Really?? Who knew? Doctors and dentist have long known an unhealthy mouth can cause be part of greater ill health but I, for one, hadn’t ever given any thought to athletics contributing to greater oral health challenges!
As survey of athletes at the 2012 London Olympics found:
“18% of athletes said that their oral health had a negative impact on their performance and 46.5% had not been to the dentist in the past year.”
This is more than a matter of not taking time to brush (although, how many of you are brushing the literal as the PSA’s recommend?) Athletes have some special obstacles to overcome when maintaining the health of their teeth and gums.
First, many of the sports drinks, goos, and gels are high in sugar. That’s exactly what’s needed from a sports performance perspective but from an oral health perspective, the high sugar and acid levels of sports supplements can erode enamel in much the same way soda does. And even something as simple as dehydration can play a role in tooth decay since saliva acts to prevent erosion and tooth decay.
Added to these issues, athletes, many times, are under nutritional stress as they strive to attain proper nutritional and caloric demands to both fuel their training and meet the everyday demands of maintenance and repair of bodily tissues.
While the study frames the issue for elite athletes, non-elite level athletes face many of the same pressures. Many studies link oral health to the overall health of an individual and all of us want to live the healthiest life we are able. So take some time to remember a part of our body we don’t normally consider when thinking of athletic performance: your mouth. And don’t let the health of your teeth and gums get in the way of your performance.