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Dentistry Ohio

Dentistry and the Olympics

One of the biggest events coming our way early in the new year will be the Sochi Winter Olympic Games from February 7-23.

My hope is that our American athletes are alert to the results of a study led by Professor Ian Needleman at the University College London and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. 

Needleman and his team learned that some of the world’s most elite athletes who competed at the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games had oral health conditions similar to citizens of the world’s most disadvantaged populations.  18% of the athletes surveyed believed their oral health was negatively impacting their athletic performance. 

From among the pool of London’s Olympic athletes 302 were recruited from 25 different sports.  Subjects were given a systematic oral examination and asked to provide a personal assessment on the role oral health played in their quality of life and their athletic capacity. 

The research team found 55% of the athletes had dental caries (tooth decay) and that nearly 75% had early stage gum disease (gingivitis) with a full 15% demonstrating more involved periodontitis.  Of the athletes tested 42% stated they were “bothered by oral health” issues.

“It is amazing that many professional athletes”, said Professor Needleman, “people who dedicate a huge amount of time and energy to honing their physical abilities, do not have sufficient support for their oral health needs, even though this negatively impacts on their training and performance.” 

“Oral health assessment”, concludes the professor, “should be part of every athlete’s routine medical care.  If we are going to help them optimize their level of performance we need to concentrate on oral health promotion and disease prevention strategies to facilitate the health and wellbeing of all our elite athletes.”

Tagged In: Athletic Performance

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