Athletes take part in highly engaging and sometimes hazardous sports. During sports events, athletes are more likely to experience oral trauma than those who don’t participate in sports. Athletes often represent the unlimited potential of what the human body can do and represent the wear and tear the body goes through to achieve those feats. From young athletes to professional players, it’s essential to care about oral health. If you consider yourself an athlete, then here are our suggestions for what you can do to protect your teeth.
Why Athletes Often Have Poor Oral Health
Many elite athletes often represent the peak of fitness due to the physical exertion and demands on their bodies. However, in some cases, the result of poor oral health doesn’t just result from trauma. According to the British Dental Journal, athletes often have higher oral disease rates despite having good oral habits. According to the study reported back in 2018, 49% of athletes have untreated tooth decay. A large majority of athletes have early signs of gingivitis, and 32% of athletes reported that their oral health negatively impacted their performance. Many had higher than average oral health problems, even with proper brushing habits, believed to be caused by sports drinks, energy bars, and energy gels. Due to the high amounts of sucrose within these food items, they can increase tooth decay risk and contribute to gum erosion.
Steps to Improve Oral Health
Cleanliness is next to godliness, and with athletes and their dental health, it couldn’t be more true. In a population fixated on health and performance, athletes often face many underlying issues that can impact their performance, and many of those issues stem from their oral health. To sink your teeth into the problem, we’ve arranged some simple tips to help improve your dental health and athletic performance:
- Drink Water: Drinking water can be the most valuable asset an athlete can have. Water provides the body with hydration and helps the mouth wash away any harmful bacteria buildup caused by food. While saliva often works in our favor, dehydration and mouth breathing from intense activity can inadvertently cause dry mouth, which heavily contributes to tooth decay.
- Skip the Energy Drinks: The intense amount of sugars and carbohydrates present in energy drinks and bars can give the bacteria in your mouth all the fuel it needs to cause cavities. Trading in energy drinks for alternatives such as coffee or tea (with less sugar and creamer) can significantly reduce the chances of periodontal disease.
- Wear a Mouth Guard: Most often, people think of poor oral health resulting from athletic trauma. Trauma is still an essential aspect to consider, and wearing a mouthguard can help decrease the chances of permanent teeth popping out during a collision or crack during an accident.
- Brush, Floss, Repeat: While brushing and flossing, make sure to incorporate fluoride into your routine. If you need extra fluoride, try using a fluoride mouthwash to strengthen your enamel and keep your teeth healthy.
Keeping your smile as strong as your body can be a tedious task, but to avoid long-term consequences, it can be worth the effort.