Oral Health & Athletes
Poor oral health is not new in the world of high level sports. As early as 1968, it was noted after examining 400 athletes from 30 countries that there was a significant number with both caries and gingivitis. Anecdotally, it was reported that a few of the athletes with oral infections and on analgesic medication for dental pain either withdrew from the games or were eliminated early in the competition. In the 1980s pre-competition dental screenings were reporting several athletes with severely decayed or abscessed teeth.
Jump ahead to the 2012 Olympic Games in London and we still see poor oral health negatively impacting athletes. In this study, 278 athletes from 25 sports were examined. The overall results showed high levels of poor oral health which included tooth decay (55%), tooth surface erosion (45%), gingivitis (76%) and periodontitis (15%). Forty percent of the athletes said their oral health 'bothered' them, 28% said it had a negative impact on their quality of life and 18% said it impacted their training and performance.