We had plenty of reasons to celebrate as we watched our mighty Olympians win a haul of medals in Rio. As they stood on the podium, beaming a proud smile, no one was thinking about their teeth – and rightly so.
But now they are home and have a little more time on their hands, it is perhaps timely to bring up some findings on the oral health of their London 2012 counterparts: a research paper published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2013 revealed that 55 per cent of the athletes had tooth decay, more than three in four had an early stage of gum disease, and 15 per cent had signs of periodontitis.
Why do athletes have poorer oral health?
Such a high level of gum disease is concerning – so what is going on? As the hygienists at our central London specialist dental practice explain to all of their patients, diet is a primary factor in oral health.
The sports drinks, bars and gels used in training involve high levels of carbohydrates, all working together to bring the pH of the mouth to below 5.5, meaning more acid and therefore more decay and dental erosion.
Are athlete’s teeth any of our business?
With many people, especially youngsters, feeling inspired to take up sport, there is a real opportunity to remind the public that food or drink intended to help one attain peak physical fitness may not be wholly good; while it may give you enough energy to keep going during your training session, it could be playing havoc with your teeth.
Awareness of this can help you make simple changes such as drinking lots of water and chewing sugar-free gum to reduce the acid levels in your mouth and therefore the risk of dental erosion. During a consultation with a hygienist at our London specialist dental practice you can find out about the many things you can do reduce the risk of tooth decay.