Why Athletes need to take extra care of their Oral Care
Oral care issues in Athletes
Serious athletes are constantly looking for ways to gain an advantage over their rivals. This usually entails using the best tools, working diligently on their own time, and having the nutrients their bodies need to perform at their peak. After an intense workout with one of several forms of sports drinks, refuelling the body is another aspect of a serious athlete’s routine.
Though sports drinks are promoted as an essential part of an athlete’s lifestyle, you might be shocked to learn that the main ingredient in most sports drinks is sugar—and a lot of it. Four of the most popular sports drinks contain more sugar than a full-size candy bar.
That isn’t to suggest that sports drinks aren’t a good choice for athletes, but they’re best for extreme, high-intensity athletes who need to refresh after a long workout, practice, or game. Though delicious, these beverages are not always helpful to youth and high school athletes. And the amount of sugar in them isn’t good for anyone’s teeth.
The amount of sugar in sports energy drinks and their impact on an athlete’s teeth and gums are the common denominators, regardless of who consumes them. While teeth do not assist an athlete in running, skating, jumping, kicking, swinging, or lunging, oral health may significantly affect the entire body.
Not drinking enough water in addition to sports drinks is one way to have bad oral health. Another is failing to properly care for your teeth, whether by proper brushing and flossing or through wearing a mouthguard and appropriate headgear when competing.
What Is the Impact of Poor Oral Health on Athletes?
Even if they wash and floss regularly, professional athletes have some of the worst oral health problems. According to a study published in the British Dental Journal by the UCL Eastman Dental Institute, elite athletes, such as Olympians and professional athletes in 11 sports, had tooth loss, gum recession, and acid degradation.
The research polled 352 high-level athletes and asked them about how they cared for their teeth. The overwhelming majority of athletes, according to the study, brushed their teeth twice a day, flossed, didn’t smoke, and went to the dentist regularly. Nonetheless, a routine dental examination of all of the athletes revealed the following:
- Untreated tooth decay was found in almost half of all high-caliber athletes surveyed.
- The majority of the athletes had gum inflammation, which is an early sign of gum disease, and about a third of them admitted that their oral health problems had affected their training or success.
So, if your oral hygiene is on board, what’s causing your dental problems?
Sports drinks, sports bars, and energy gels are the three products. Specifically, 87 percent of the athletes polled said they consume sports drinks daily, while 59 percent and 70 percent said they eat sports bars and energy gels, respectively. The study confirmed that athletes who eat these daily without taking extra dental health precautions are at an elevated risk of developing oral health problems.
Since four of the most popular sports drinks contain more sugar in a single 20-ounce bottle than a typical candy bar, the effects on your teeth can be severe if you’re not careful. Gatorade, which PepsiCo owns, has 34 grams of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle, around one-third of the daily recommended sugar intake.
We’re not suggesting that you stop drinking sports drinks during practice or games. Still, it’s essential to be aware of what you’re eating, mainly because it affects an athlete’s overall oral health. For this reason, you should pay attention to some of the advice and suggestions in this article. It’s also why water—yes, good ol’ H2O—is by far the best sports drink, whether it’s the only liquid an athlete can consume or not.
Oral Health Problems and How They Arise
Everyone understands that sugar is terrible for your teeth, but do you know why? Or what effect it has on them?
Although sugar is just one piece of the puzzle for poor dental health, it is a critical one. Essentially, the mouth is a battleground for bacteria. And, although this might seem to be a bit gross, not all bacteria are evil.
When sugar, such as the sugar used in sports drinks, sports bars, and energy gels, comes into contact with one form of mouth bacteria, it produces acid. Demineralization is a mechanism in which the acid extracts minerals from tooth enamel. Enamel protects the teeth by acting as a protective coating. It keeps your teeth bright while protecting them from hot and cold temperature fluctuations and tooth decay.
The good news is that gum disease can always be reversed if caught early on. The periodontal disorder may have far-reaching consequences on our overall health if we don’t detect it early enough. Poor breath, tooth loss, sensitive teeth, and chewing discomfort are only a few of them. Then there are the more severe side effects: hormonal shifts, an increased risk of diabetes, and heart problems. Gum cleaning, usually by a dentist, and combining a water flosser with plaque-removing mouthwash in one’s oral care routine are two common ways to reverse early gum disease.
Oral Health’s Effect on Athletic Performance
Do you believe that oral health has no impact on athletic performance? Reconsider your place. We’re not talking about losing a turn in a hockey game because you were high-sticked in the mouth and had to avoid bleeding. A trip to the dentist will take care of that.
- The state of one’s teeth affects the rest of one’s body. Poor oral health can have a cascading effect on the body.
- Oral health affects physical health and quality of life. Mental wellbeing is another major stumbling block to outstanding athletic success. To rise above the competition, athletes must be psychologically resilient, capable of shaking off bad pitches, foul shots, or soft play.
- Problems with sleeping. An athlete’s body requires sleep to recover, and dental issues can have a significant effect on sleep patterns.
- There are serious health concerns. Periodontal disease, as mentioned previously, can cause significant harm to your body. It can increase the chances of getting heart disease, having a stroke, or developing diabetes. These can affect even the most dedicated and well-conditioned athletes.
How Can Athletes Prevent Tooth Decay and Oral Health Problems?
- Sugar should be washed down with water.
- Brush daily.
- Tobacco should not be chewed.
- Make sure you have a mouth guard on.
- Please don’t smoke.
- Visit the dentist daily. At least twice a year, or once every six months, everybody can see a dentist for regular cleanings and checkups. Those with oral health issues can benefit from going to the dentist quarterly.