Disregard of Dental Health and its Impact on Athletic Performances

dental health
A Special Featured Article by Ana, Dental and Fitness Expert

An unexpected appointment booking chimed on my mobile on a dull evening.
Describing his excitement for the upcoming regional competition, was my new patient
who introduced himself as a professional weight lifter.
He complained that lately his focus has been deterred because of his continuous toothache.
What I encountered upon his examination, implored me to draw awareness on an often
neglected area in Sports Dental Care.

Toothache is considerd to be the most horrid and unpleasant sensations in the world.
It might not sound that important, but an innocous dental pain can come
deceptively at the most untimely place or situation.

Athletes are at a demand to perform under high pressure. They train their bodies and
build up their endurance for months to perform on the D day. Dental health is commonly neglected and that has a disastrous effect on the overall health
of an athlete. An athlete or sportsperson can be at his/her prime during a game but an uninvited toothache can hamper his/her performance.

Following points should be taken into consideration by every Athlete/Coach/Manager to avoid any hindrance in their performance :

1. Dental Caries

Carious tooth is a ticking time bomb. Mildly unpleasant sensation upon having something cold and sweet can turn into a throbbing dental pain with headache. Dental decay develops when cariogenic bacteria along with other contributing factors demineralise the outer surface of the tooth (Enamel).

Although, popularly, caries is considered to be of dark coloured stain on the tooth surface which is not completely true. Teeth which are affected by caries have modified surfaces which turns into a white opalescent shade. Earlier detection of this stage of demineralisation can prevent further decay.

Decayed tooth also contributes to be one of the factors of bad breath or Halitosis. Researchers have found out that 37% of footballers had at least one tooth affected by Dental Caries. Getting early dental treatment will save both your precious time and money. Decayed tooth screening on the ground are easy to perform and can also assist the dentist in future.

Podcast Alert: – Review of Each game of Match-Day 15 of the Premier League

2. Periodontal health

Vigourous training and limited hydration techniques provided to the athlete leads to periodontal health to be compromised. It results in bad breath and puffy gums which bleeds easily on slight provocation. Periodontal disease includes three stages namely: Gingivitis, Periodontitis and Advanced Periodontitis. Periodontal diseases are generally painless so it is more important to be aware about it.

Severe periodontal problems can cause bone loss which eventually leads to loss of tooth and gum recession. According to a study, around 27% athletes had reported to have sensitivity to hot and cold drinks. It is also important to mention that there are well documented inter-relations of Periodontitis and increased cardiovascular risks. It should be noted that Periodontitis can be controlled ,but seldom cured. Regular visit to your dentist will alleviate such periodontal/gum problems.

3. Use of Mouth guard

Sport-persons and Athletes should be encouraged to use customized Mouth guards. It helps to prevent any trauma caused to the teeth during games. However, in case of any trauma to the teeth or if the tooth has been knocked out of its socket(Avulsion) then it is advised to wash the tooth under a tap for 10 seconds. Keep your tooth in Milk/Saliva and rush to a nearby dentist.

A cautionary advice would be to hold the teeth by its crown. Various studies conducted by regulatory bodies have determined the efficacy and preventive action of Mouth guards
in sports.

4. Tooth/Dental Erosion

With the advent of brand endorsements tied up with sports, regular water is barely consumed during the matches. Athletes are encouraged to consume energy drinks which lures them for an increased performance. It was estimated in a report published in 2016 that 53% of footballers had Dental erosion, where the teeth is worn away by acid attack.

Such energy drinks are highly caffeinated and has a high glucose content which leads to Dental Erosion. Since replenishing the loss of essential nutrients is crucial for the sport-person. Regular visit to the dentist will prevent any dental erosion from taking place.

Conclusion: –

In conclusion, Dental health should be given paramount importance in Sports. It plays a crucial role in the performance of a player and has a profound impact on their socio-psychological status. Recently, a very famous Premier League football team manager, Jose Mourinho sent his players for Dental check ups. Many players had periodontal issues and almost 40% had dental cavities.

Some players were concluded to have oral health worse than the general public. Such news and information illuminates the urgent need to tackle Oral health in sports and create awareness among the budding athletes. Discuss your training and hydration regime with your dentist. A regular dental review will detect early damage and offer preventive advice.

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