Pay attention to your oral health, athletes advised


It's best to use a custom-made mouth-guard when playing contact sports. Photo: TNS

If they want to win, elite and amateur athletes need to make their oral health a top priority.

FDI World Dental Federation (FDI) couldn’t agree more as they recently released a series of sports dentistry resources for amateur and elite athletes, dentists and sports medicine physicians, and sports organisations.

Oral injury or trauma are not the only dental dilemmas that arise while partaking in sports:

♦ Sports-related stress can lead to dehydration, dry mouth and teeth-grinding.

♦ Energy beverages and certain foods and supplements contain added sugars and acidic ingredients, which can cause caries and increase the risk of gum disease and tooth erosion.

♦ A dental emergency – such as a gum abscess, infected tooth or wisdom tooth eruption – before a competition can impair performance or even prevent the athlete from participating at all.

“A healthy mouth contributes to a healthy body. We don’t always consider the disastrous effects of poor oral health on overall health and athletic success,” said FDI president Dr Kathryn Kell in a PR Newswire press release. “We want to build upon this understanding and make sure it’s part of the conversation between sports medicine physicians and their patients.”

Whether you’re an Olympian or out for a Sunday morning jog, your oral health impacts your performance in several significant ways:

Poor oral health affects quality of life and well-being, two key elements for strong athletic performance.

Tooth decay and gum disease can cause or maintain inflammations and infections in the body.

Some athletes are also at an increased risk for oral and dental trauma and injuries when practising contact and combat sports without proper protection.

FDI recommends wearing a mouth-guard (custom-made is best) when engaging in contact sports, even if the sport is practised occasionally.

FDI also advises athletes to:

Brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste;

Visit the dentist at least once a year;

Counteract the effects of acidic and sugary energy foods and drinks by rinsing with water afterwards;

Opt for water to stay hydrated throughout the day.

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