Why Olympians Need to Take Better Care of Their Teeth

Olympians encouraged to take better care of their teeth.
Adam Peaty has won the first British gold medal of these games
Adam Peaty has won the first British gold medal of these games

A recent report has found that athletes are more at risk of tooth erosion than non-athletes and, therefore, Olympic participants have been urged to be aware of their oral health.

With the 2016 Olympics Games having officially kicked off on Friday night, all eyes are on Rio for the winners and the events of these years’ games. This means a lot of training and a lot of physical feats for all the sports people involved. The researchers found that athletes who took part in more weekly training had more cavities than those who trained less. The study, which focused on triathletes, found their high carbohydrate consumption, including sports drinks, gels, and bars during training, lowers the mouth’s pH below 5.5, which means there is more acid in the mouth and a higher risk of tooth decay and dental erosion.

The games are in Rio this year
The games are in Rio this year

Olympians are being urged by The Oral Health Foundation to take extra care of their champion smiles as they go for gold this summer. Dr Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, spoke ahead of the opening ceremony and said:

“Top athletes are putting their oral health at risk though their training regime and we are urging them to make sure they make time to look after their oral health so they can showcase their smile on a global scale.”

“Following the London 2012 Olympics, research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2013) discovered that more than half (55%) of the athletes had tooth decay. It also revealed more than three in four athletes had gingivitis, which is an early stage of gum disease, and 15% had signs of periodontitis, which is an irreversible gum infection.”

anatomy of a tooth
anatomy of a tooth

“This is significant number of people and as Olympians are held up as role models by children across the globe they should make sure they look after their oral health. At the very least, they should be brushing for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, visiting their dentist regularly and trying to limit the amount of sugary foods and drinks they consume and if this is not possible drinks plenty of water and chew sugar-free chewing gum to reduce the sugars impact on the teeth.”

Athletes and Olympians are known for consuming a lot of sugary energy drinks throughout their days of training, this puts them more at risk of dental erosion. This is the loss of tooth enamel caused by acid attacks, a process that may be caused by consuming fizzy drinks too often. Enamel is the hard, protective coating of the tooth, and if it is worn away, the dentine underneath becomes exposed and teeth can look discoloured and become sensitive. Dr Carter went on to address this:

Mo Farah is one of the most well known British athletes
Mo Farah is one of the most well known British athletes

“If everyday people taking part in sport, including children, are looking to copy their Olympic hero’s habits, it is important to limit the amount of times they have anything acidic or sugary. Using a straw to help drinks go to the back of the mouth will help limit the amount of time a fizzy drink will be in contact with teeth.
‘If the use of energy drinks, particularly amongst children, continues to rise, dental health problems will develop and persist well into adulthood.”

So, if you end up seriously taking up a sport during this Olympic season, keep your dental health in mind.


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2 thoughts on “Why Olympians Need to Take Better Care of Their Teeth”

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