Healthy lifestyle trend is growing rapidly as you noticed it for sure already. The physical activity is an important part of it so with no surprises more and more people practice various sports in a more or less intensive way. This is a good point. The bad one (because there is one) is the fact, proven by studies*, that people having a regular sport routine increase their risk to have oral health issues…
Now you are surprised, aren’t you? I was also when a colleague of mine shared the results of a recent study* the Sunstar Foundation performed among elite athletes.
The results were quite baffling: according to Dr Needleman study*, 45% (!) of the athletes are bothered by oral issues, such as dental caries or tooth sensitivity, and almost 20% report impact on their quality of life!
The main causes of these surprising numbers are, first of all, the intensive training and extreme conditions they push their bodies through and the high intake of calories athletes need to take, usually provided by sports drinks with high sugar content. Also, most of the athletes experience dry mouth, which is a perfect condition for bacteria to grow (our saliva being a natural protective “rinse” against bacteria).
Check below the interviews from the study where athletes share their habits and main concerns about their oral care:
Of course, the study was realized among elite athletes. Nevertheless, the oral health issues concern every person practicing sport regularly. Since your body is put under pressure and is constantly in contact with sugar, you have to pay special attention to what is happening in your mouth to avoid bigger problems with your overall health.
So what is the solution?
First of all, and all the experts agree on that point: the change must occur through the raise of awareness, education and behavioural change. Oral care seems not to be a priority even in top athletes’ medical check-up, not talking about “normal” people. The oral care should become a part of every person’s practicing sport routine. And more you practice, more you should pay attention (as a person with a risk factor). And for athletes, an oral heath focus and a regular dental check-up must become a part of their overall training programme, along with diet and physical therapy. As Needleman summarizes, “The mouth must be placed back into the body”.
This study brought one more evidence that the state of your oral health is not concerning only your mouth but is also directly influencing your whole body and mind.
So, athletes (either you are a champion or just trying to become it 😉 ): please, brush, rinse and floss! To avoid some small and big issues elsewhere…
Holistic is a key term here: everything is connected, don’t forget about it 😉