Olympic athletes had worse teeth than would be expected for people their age. Of the athletes surveyed, about 1 in 5 said oral health affected their competitiveness, and a full 1 in 3 said it impacted their quality of life. If you or a child is engaged in competitive athletics, it’s important to take care of your oral health.

“Striking” Levels of Bad Teeth

Researchers from the University College London took advantage of the Olympics to examine the teeth of athletes by offering a free dental clinic that provided checkups and mouthguards. Over 300 athletes competing in 25 sports took advantage of the clinics. They found that of these athletes:

  • 55% had cavities
  • 45% had tooth erosion
  • 76% had gum disease
  • Oral health affected quality of life for 1 in 3 and training or performance for 1 in 5

Researchers say that although their results may have been skewed by the fact that athletes with tooth problems might be more likely to use the clinic, their results are consistent with other studies.

Why Athletes Have Bad Teeth

Researchers offered several explanations for why athletes might have bad teeth. It’s possible their diet is to blame. Many athletes eat a high-carb diet, including sugary energy drinks, which have been implicated in oral health problems. Another possible cause is the stress from training and competing. This stress may weaken their immune system, putting them at increased risk for oral health problems. Or it may just be that athletes are too engrossed in their sport to give proper attention to their oral health.

Maintain Oral Health to Maintain Competitiveness

Researchers also noted, “Many sports medics have anecdotes about athletes missing medals at major competitions as a result of oral health problems.” If you or your child is aspiring to the highest levels of competition, it’s important to take care of your oral health to avoid becoming the subject of one of those anecdotes. To keep your competitive edge, schedule a teeth cleaning and oral health check-up. Please contact Dental Excellence of Blue Bell in Philadelphia today to schedule your appointment.