Why do athletes needs to worry about their oral health?

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Dec 4, 2023

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Dec 4, 2023

Athletes or people working out in the gyms are all worried about losing their muscle mass and building a good body to cope up with the new challenges. They’re more worried about each part of their body except for teeth. Athletes Oral health though being so important is always taken for granted in every other profession.

Studies carried out by the UCL Eastman Dental Institute concluded that athletes including people in sports activities like cycling, swimming, rugby, football, hockey, basketball have poor oral hygiene.

Regular dental checkups of the athletes showed untreated cavities, broken teeth or fractured teeth, early gum infections, reduced teeth height all of which indirectly added a negative impact on the training.

Reason for the athlete’s poor oral health

1) Excessive intake of sports drinks and energy bars

Sports drinks containing a lot of sugar are harmful to your teeth. The micro-organisms and the bacteria ferment the sugar and release acids on the tooth. This acid dissolves the tooth structure causing cavities.

The very misconception is more energy is gained by consuming more sugar. Sometimes high sugar content can also hamper the healing process of the body. The energy bars are sticky in nature and tend to stick on the tooth giving more time for the bacteria to interact with the sugar-producing more acids and early tooth cavities.

2) Failing to brush at bedtime

Athletes never fail to brush their teeth in the morning. Intense workouts are usually tiring for athletes and by the end of the day, they’re looking forward to their dinner and hit the bed. Failing to brush your teeth at night gives an ample amount of time for the bacteria to cause cavities and gum infections.

In fact, bedtime brushing is even more important than brushing in the morning so one can imagine the seriousness of night-time brushing.

3) Teeth grinding

Athletes, gym workers, and gym trainees are more prone to grinding their teeth while working out. This happens when they’re lifting heavy objects or expressing their pain while doing intense workouts. The teeth grind on each other and wear off thus reducing the tooth height.

Wearing off of the teeth sooner or later causes sensitivity. Grinding of the teeth can happen even in sleep and thus wearing a nightguard helps in such situations to further protect your teeth from damage.

4) Not hydrating yourself

Hydrating yourself with water helps to reduce the risk of caries. Yes, plain water helps to flush out all the food particles and aids in the natural cleansing of the teeth.  Also, athletes have a habit of breathing through their mouth continuously, this causes the mouth to become dry and paces the rate of cavities.

5) Not wearing a mouthguard

It is well said that mouthguards should be made a part of the sports uniform. Mouthguard shields the teeth. Various tooth fractures, chipping of the tooth pieces, cracked teeth, due to accidental falls or other injuries can happen if a mouth guard is not worn. Mouthguard also helps your teeth from drying out.

6) Drinking alcohol or smoking habits

Apart from all these, alcohol and smoking can add to dry mouth and can accelerate the rate of already caused decay.

Athletes oral health – Things to do to maintain good dental hygiene

1) Sideline sugary drinks and energy bars

Professional athletes should reduce the consumption of energy drinks and bars that are sugary. Try to eat natural sources of energy which is derived from carbs.

2) Brush-floss-rinse-repeat

Rinsing your mouth with plain water as and when you get the time and after every meal or snacks along with brushing twice daily should suffice you to maintain healthy oral hygiene. Use a fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash for stronger teeth.

3) Water is the best beverage for your teeth

Keep hydrating your teeth with plain water throughout the day.

4) Mouthguard

Ask your dentist to make a customized mouth guard for you as a precautionary measure to protect your teeth.

5) Regular dental visits

Regular dental visits for cleaning and polishing every couple of months is the key to all your dental problems.

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Author Bio: Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.

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