Teeth are as important as every other part of the athlete’s body, and oral health has a significant impact on sports performance.
We all know that oral health should be considered as an essential aspect of human well-being; it is proving to be an important element with links to the whole body – a fact that is increasingly being acknowledged and discussed among medical staff for professional sports teams.
Professional footballers of FC Zürich have participated in an oral care training regime initiated by then-physiotherapist Zivorad Filic, led by local stomatologist Dr. Rolf Kufus, and supported by CURAPROX products.
“Healthy teeth and gums are important, since infections can easily be caused by injuries in the mouth area. We want to avoid anything that might affect the players’ performance, and this also extends to chronic infections. Gums can easily become inflamed if teeth are not carefully brushed. Gum inflammation often goes unnoticed, but it still affects performance,” said Zivorad Filic in this interview.
In recent years, many scientists have been paying more attention to the importance of so-called sports dentistry. Let’s have a look at some books and studies that have helped to shine a spotlight on this emerging topic.
1. Impact of oral health on the performance of athletes participating in the London Olympic Games
Research conducted during the Olympic Games in London revealed that the level of oral health among elite athletes is poor. About 300 male and female athletes consented to provide scientists in the Athletes’ Village polyclinic with a standardised history, submit to a clinical examination and complete a brief questionnaire for the cross-sectional study.
“Overall, the results demonstrated high levels of poor oral health among athletes, including dental caries (55%), dental erosion (45%) and periodontal disease (gingivitis 76% and periodontitis 15%). More than 40% of athletes were ‘bothered’ by their oral health, with 28% reporting an impact on quality of life and 18% on training and performance. Nearly half of the participants had not undergone a dental examination or hygiene care in the previous year,” the study found.
The research authors also recommended an oral health assessment be conducted as a part of routine medical care for every athlete.
You can read the full study on the British Journal of Sports Medicine website.
2. A thorough guide to sports dentistry
The book Modern Sports Dentistry, written by a collective of authors and edited by Dr. Mark Roettger, was published in 2018 by Springer Publishing. As perhaps the most detailed book to date concerning the various aspects of sports dentistry, it’s intended as a “one-stop reference that will assist primary care community dentists, sports physicians, athletic trainers, and emergency room physicians in meeting the needs of athletes when managing facial and dental trauma and sports-related oral diseases.”
The book provides a review of sports-related dentoalveolar trauma and care, explains the role of endodontics, surgical management, and dental restoration, but contains chapters also about dental erosion in sports, the importance of the dentist in the modern sports medicine team and much more.
You can buy the complete version of Modern Sports Dentistry as a full ebook/print book, or buy specific chapters here on the publisher’s website.
3. Link between tooth decay and performance habits
Frequent, intense workouts followed by the regular consumption of sports drinks can have a massive impact on the mouth health of athletes. The article is based on a study in the British Dental Journal. It includes arguments and recommendations that are also valid for those who practice sports at the amateur level.
If you have patients who work out daily and use various supplements, this piece offers vital information to share with them about the effect of sports drinks, sports bars, and energy gels on their teeth, how tooth decay and gum inflammation is linked to overall well being, and probably the most important takeaway: “Keep in mind that many elite athletes will shower after an intense training session, practice, or game. To keep their oral health in top-notch condition, athletes also should make brushing a part of their post-practice and post-game routine.”
4. In-depth book about Sport and Oral Health
This “concise guide” written by Siobhan C. Budd and Jean-Christophe Egea from the University of Montpelier’s Faculty of Dental Surgery offers a wide view into the connection between sports and dental health.
With 23 in-depth chapters that define different types of athletic patients, the book describes the importance of oral health for athletes, as well as potential oral health risks for athletes in relation to nutrition, training, sports psychology, or medication and access to dental care and the clinical reality of sports dentistry.
5. Toolkit for sports organizations
The FDI World Dental Federation stresses the need for regular dental care by professional athletes and sports teams. Recently, the Federation published a practical toolkit for sports organizations that explains the term “sports dentistry,” describes the connection between oral health and athletic performance and presents recommendations for the oral care of amateur and pro athletes. The toolkit also contains other valuable sources on the topic of sports dentistry.