Are you brushing twice daily off the field and yet notice your teeth are not as healthy as they should be? A study conducted by the UCL Eastman Dental Institute found that nearly half of athletes (49.1%) they surveyed had tooth decay and a third (32%) stated that their oral health was negatively impacting their sports performance. Yet, 94% reported cleaning their teeth twice a day as required.
Luckily for athletes, it is possible and relatively easy to get back on track and maintain good oral health. Here is what all athletes need to do to:
Avoid Sugary Drinks
The UCL Eastman Dental Institute study also found that 87% of the athletes they surveyed consume sugary sports drinks. Sports drinks are used during training or competition to help keep the athletes energy up and keep them hydrated. Some sports energy drinks contain high doses of sugar, calories and caffeine which are especially harsh on the teeth. Sports drinks can increase the risk of tooth decay, as proven from the UCL study, and the acidity in the beverages can lead to erosion.
The bacteria in the mouth will often use the sugar from the sports drinks to produce acid which ultimately weakens the outer shell of the teeth. That can lead to cavities or other oral health problems. Athletes should instead choose water to hydrate themselves or make their own sports drink at home with more protein.
Remember To Floss
The previous study also found that 44% of athletes surveyed were flossing regularly, compared to only 21% of the general population. However, flossing daily is equally as important as brushing. Regularly flossing helps keep teeth healthy and less vulnerable to damage while playing sports. Removing the built up plaque and food particles from the drinks and food after a day on the field will keep your smile healthy and beautiful.
Wear A Mouthguard
A mouthguard usually covers the upper teeth, lips, tongue, face and jaw against injuries. They are a key component of oral health safety on the field to directly protect teeth from being severely damaged or broken. They can also make an athlete feel more secure and protected while playing the game so their mind is 100% focused on the sport. Some sports also require young players to wear a mouthguard, including hockey. Mouthguards can even reduce the chance and severity of a concussion which are quite common in sports that require a mouthguard.
Dental Injuries are the most common facial injury that occurs while playing sports. Sports such as football, wrestling and lacrosse pose an even higher risk of injury to the teeth or jaw area. Mouthguards should be a key component of many athletes uniforms.
Our staff of friendly, highly trained dentists at Slipacoff Dental Centre in Sarnia, Ontario provide a variety of dental services for high-quality care. Whether you need a simple check-up or a custom-fitted athletic mouthguard, our staff will provide you with gentle, efficient treatment.