Athletes' Oral Health Can Affect Performance

Intense dietary and training pressures on athletes could put them at high risk of oral problems for many reasons. The energy athletes need for training often means they have high-carbohydrate diets and regularly use sugary, acidic energy drinks that may contribute to decay and erosion in their teeth, said the statement, published online September 28.

Professional athletes and teams spend time and money on improving performance for an edge that can make all the difference in elite sports, said the leader of the collaborative effort involving sports groups, elite athletes and oral health and sports medicine experts. “Simple strategies to prevent oral health problems can offer marginal performance gains that require little or no additional time or money. Things like better tooth brushing techniques and higher fluoride toothpastes could prevent the toothache and associated sleeping and training difficulties that can make the crucial difference between gold and silver,” said the statement authors.

And athletes at all levels of competition can protect their mouths by using mouthguards, the American Dental Association says. A mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear that should be part of an athlete’s standard equipment from an early age. For more information visit ADA’s consumer website MouthHealthy.org. The ADA offers a patient education brochure, Sports Safety, that helps dentists get kids and parents on board with facial protection.

A University College London survey at the London 2012 Olympic Games found that 18 percent of athletes said their oral health had a negative impact on their performance and 46.5 percent had not been to the dentist in the past year.

Eligible volunteer dentists may provide dental care for U.S. Olympic elite athletes as members of the U.S. Olympic Committee health care team under an agreement with the Academy for Sports Dentistry.

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.