When we think of athletes, we often view them as the picture-perfect example of good health. While athletes usually have great overall health, many may be falling short with their dental health. From issues of dry mouth to risk of dental trauma, athletes have a variety of dental risks to keep an eye on. Dr. Richard Ekstein shares more about dental health concerns among elite athletes and how to handle oral problems.
Case Study: Dental Health At The Olympics
The Olympic games bring the world together for a series of athletic showcases. It’s where the best of the best come to compete, and they have top-quality care during this period. From doctors to food and shelter, the athletes get the best available care during their stay. This also includes dental care, and at the 2012 London Olympics, there were 30 dentists at the Olympic Village dental clinic ready to care for the world’s athletes. But what many may not have realized is how common poor oral health is among athletes.
During the two-week event, the clinic received nearly 2,000 visits from athletes with various dental problems. Tooth decay, gum disease, loose teeth and more; the clinic was overwhelmed almost every day.
Some of the reasons that contribute to poor oral health among athletes include:
- Exertion: It takes a lot of energy to be at your very best. However, if you don’t consistently hydrate, you sweat less and dispense less saliva. Saliva is what keeps those harmful, cavity-causing bacteria at bay, so drinking plenty of water can help.
- Snacks and Drinks: What do athletes reach for after expending all that energy during training? Most often, it’s sugary or acidic sports drinks and snacks, which erode away at the teeth and can lead to cavities. Take a look at the label of your favorite energy booster: is it more sugar than other proteins? Then it may be time to rethink what you’re eating while you’re training.
- Time: It also comes down to basic neglect; if the athlete simply doesn’t have the time to care for their teeth, then this can often lead to more tooth caries.
Proper Dental Care For Athletes
Athletes should be conscious of what they consume: drink water to stay hydrated, don’t reach for the sugary drinks, and opt for more natural foods instead of processed energy bars. Take good care of your teeth, even when you’re tired: brush, floss, use mouthwash, and anything else you need to keep them healthy.
While rare, it has happened where the oral health of an Olympic Athlete jeopardized their performance and may have lost them a medal. What started as a single cavity could turn into an infection that affects other parts of your body too.
So, what happens if you’re an athlete and you have a tooth knocked out? Some dentists may be able to save the tooth, but for the most part, there’s little that can be done in terms of a natural tooth. However, athletes can consider dental implants, both for the benefit of their natural teeth and their performance. Dental implants can easily replace lost teeth and fit snugly between your natural teeth. They are meant to look and feel like any other tooth while staying just as durable. Dental implants aren’t like dentures or bridges either: they won’t get in the way of your performance, fall out, or become loose over time.
Contact Smile Design Specialist
Whether you’ve lost a tooth due to poor oral health or dental trauma, it’s crucial to treat your tooth loss as soon as possible. The longer you wait to treat your missing teeth, the more damage can occur to your gum health and remaining teeth. To find out more about treatment with dental implants or any other dental service, contact our office here in North Arlington, NJ.