Despite having healthy dental habits, elite athletes tend to have poor teeth — here’s how athletes can protect their teeth.
According to a recent study from University College London, high-level athletes are significantly more likely than most people to have poor dental health — despite having better oral hygiene overall. The study came as dentists examined a curious connection between high-level athletes and dental health issues.
When over 300 British athletes were surveyed for their dental health and oral hygiene habits, the study concluded that athletes indeed have difficulty preventing tooth decay. These results seem to contradict the study’s findings that athletes generally have a healthier dental health routine than the average person. In fact, athletes are much more likely than the average person to brush twice a day, and to maintain a healthy diet.
If athletes take such good care of their teeth, why do they experience dental health issues? And how can athletes work to prevent tooth decay if brushing isn’t enough?
Why do athletes have dental problems?
Even though there is evidence that high-level athletes are prone to tooth decay, the jury’s still out as to why this occurs. There are two leading theories as to why, and we have yet to conclusively determine which is the determining cause of dental problems in athletes.
First, although athletes generally have a healthier diet than the average adult, a high percentage of athletes use sports drinks and energy supplements on a regular basis. Dietary supplements like sports drinks, energy bars, and energy gels often contain acidic and corrosive elements that can damage your dental health.
Second, athletes might experience tooth decay due to chronically low saliva. Heavy breathing leads to decreased saliva production, which can cause tooth decay over time.
How athletes can prevent tooth decay
To prevent tooth decay due to dietary supplements, the most reliable solution is for athletes to cut back on the amount of sports drinks, energy gels, and energy bars they consume. If your athletic performance hinges on these supplements, make sure to consume these products in a way that’s friendly to your teeth. Drink sports drinks through a straw, avoid sloshing them around your mouth, and dilute powdered supplements with cold water.
To prevent the negative effects of saliva deprivation, make sure to remain hydrated with plenty of water. Athletes concerned about low saliva production can also take mineral supplements that help to strengthen your tooth surface. They may also wish to consider mouthwash or chewing gum infused with CPP-ACP.
Finally, preventing tooth decay requires good dental hygiene. Athletes should always brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and to floss at least once daily.
Taking care at Espire
If their habits are indeed conducive to tooth decay, all athletes — elite or recreational — should pay special attention to their dental health. Regular checkups with your dentist are essential to detect cavities as soon as they appear, and to begin treatment before it gets serious.
Do not let tooth decay interfere with your athletic performance. For qualified dental care that focuses on each patient’s unique needs, make sure to schedule an appointment at Espire.