Professional athletes should be the picture of health, right? While their muscles may be on point, and we obsess over their performances on the field, we’d feel differently if we knew more about the state of their mouths. Athletes tend to possess oral health that’s definitely not gold medal-worthy – in fact, Olympic athletes have actually been disallowed from competitions because of serious dental problems.
Olympic athletes have served as a benchmark for the sporting world’s dental health because the Olympics are accompanied by extensive physical testing and preliminary screenings. With all this data, we can draw conclusions about larger trends. The dental portion of athletes’ examinations is absolutely dismal. By taking a look at persistent problems, we can find ways to prevent them in our own lives, and build our own lasting smiles.
Why Athletes Have So Many Dental Problems
The exasperated dental director for the IOC has vilified Olympians as having “bodies of Adonis and a garbage mouth.” They are highly likely to present tooth decay, erosion, abscesses, and other advanced dental concerns. Their oral hygiene is also less effective than most patients’ – so while they’re working hard on the field, they’re not lifting their toothbrush at the end of the day.
Here are a few of the top reasons athletes see these problems, and how you can avoid them in your own life –
- Super acidic, sugary energy drinks, bars, and gels – These substances may boost energy and supply the body with nutrients, but they’re also incredibly bad for your teeth. If you’re a big fan of them, try to limit your consumption and rinse with water afterwards (don’t brush immediately after, as the acidity will soften your enamel).
- Dehydration – High-intensity workouts mean excessive sweating, which dehydrates the body. Dehydration reduces the production of saliva, which leads to the mouth becoming dry and unsafe for your teeth. A healthy saliva bath nurtures the teeth and gums, and helps prevent decay or gingivitis.
- Physical and emotional stress – One of the biggest issues for those with highly physical careers is that they clench their teeth while exerting strength. This wears away enamel, which heightens sensitivity, increases the likelihood of decay, and makes you look older than you really are. Make sure to wear a mouth guard when working out or sleeping (if you have an issue with bruxing at night).