Why Oral Health Needs to be a Priority in Athletes

With the Olympics having just finished, and the incredible results Ireland received, we thought it was a good time to talk about why oral health needs to be a priority in athletes.

Poor oral health can affect your overall health, which in turn will affect athletic performance. Although we mentioned the Olympics, this is true for amateur athletes too.

An athletes’ daily regime is very important in relation to their overall performance. We know that areas such as nutrition and recovery are focused on, but oral health is often forgotten. Read on to learn more about oral health and athletic performance.

Why Oral Health Needs to be a Priority in Athletes

Why are athletes more susceptible to Gum Disease?

  • As athletes need to replace all of the used calories during training and racing, athletes tend to eat a lot throughout the day. In some cases the foods eaten are sugary, especially during long training sessions. These kinds of food can cause tooth decay. Continuous eating throughout the day also means the bacteria in your mouth is continuously producing acid, which will start breaking down the enamel on your teeth.
  • Replenishing liquids is essential during and after training. Sports drinks are often the drink of choice. Sports drinks can be high in sugar which again can cause tooth decay.
  • Tough training sessions and races lead to increased mouth breathing. This dries up the mouth and reduces the production of saliva which helps remove bacteria. A dry mouth is the perfect feeding ground for bacteria.
  • Stress can also affect your oral hygiene. A bad training session, or an upcoming race can be a stressful time. Stress can lead to gum disease.
  • The activity itself can have a big impact on your oral health. For example, swimmers teeth are exposed to acid from chlorine in a swimming pool. Those who play contact sport are more susecptible to oral injuries.

How can my oral health affect my sports performance?

Gum disease or a sudden toothache can be very painful and lead to missed training sessions. If it progresses into periodontal disease, a more severe form of gum disease, this can lead to needing more invasive treatment, leading to longer recovery time, and missed events.

Gum disease can also lead to other health complications throughout the body such as heart problems, stroke, and diabetes.

Top tips for good oral hygiene for athletes

Keeping good oral hygiene can be done relatively easy:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day.
  • Use interdental brushes or floss once a day.
  • See your dentist for a check up every 6 months.
  • Ensure you are brushing your teeth properly, using the correct technique.
  • Include your oral hugiene routine as part of your overall sports routine. Include your oral health check up as part of your medical check up.
  • If you are an elite althete, check out the World Dental Dederation guidelines for maintaining a healthy mouth.

Your oral health will have a knock-on effect on your quality of life, and general well-being. For this reason we can’t stress enough the importance of a good oral hygiene routine, each and every day. If you have any questions about your oral health, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We would love to help.

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