Elite athletes are almost always in incredible shape. But a recent study has found that, statistically, they may be more susceptible to tooth disease and decay than the general populace. Learn why with the expert team from Parkcrest Dental Group.
It’s Not Their Oral Habits
The UCL Eastman Dental Institute research team surveyed 352 Olympic and professional athletes across 11 different professional sports. They asked for dental checkup results that measured tooth decay, gum health, and acid erosion. They also asked the athletes about their oral hygiene habits.
What they found was surprising. Nearly half of the participants exhibited untreated tooth decay, a large majority showed early signs of gum disease, and nearly a third reported that their oral health had a negative impact on their athletic performance.
These results corroborated what an earlier 2018 study found: elite athletes tend to have poor oral health compared to the general populace. But why is that? It actually isn’t their oral hygiene habits. 94.2% said they brush twice daily, and 46% said their most recent dental visit was within six months. These fall in line with the recommended hygiene habits that dentists recommend.
It Could Be What They Consume
What may be surprising is that the state of their oral health was likely caused by their diet. You would think elite athletes would be eating healthy foods to better fuel their performance. While that may be true to some extent, nearly one-third of the athletes reported they consumed a high amount of sugar in their diet. Worst of all, 59% used energy bars, 70% used energy gels, and 87% regularly drank sports drinks.
These drinks and snacks are incredibly high in sugar. Most athletes consume them while they are playing or performing. As a result, the sugars and acids sit on their teeth for long periods of time before the athlete gets to brush.
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Obviously, the results of this study are not conclusive as it is a relatively small sample size. But it goes to show how even people who take incredible care of their bodies put their oral health at risk when they consume large amounts of sugar. For those of us who aren’t athletes and aren’t eating as healthy as we should be, this is a good lesson to take. Consuming large amounts of sugar can put your teeth at serious risk of decay, cavities, and gum disease.
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Schedule an Appointment at Parkcrest Dental Group
If you are worried that your teeth aren’t quite as healthy as they could be, consider scheduling an appointment at Parkcrest Dental Group. Our expert dentists and hygienists are extremely friendly and knowledgeable. You can be sure you are in good hands when you visit our dental office. To schedule an appointment, give our team a call at 1-417-887-1220.