Can Cavities Affect Sports Performance

By Shannon Gurnee
In Health
February 21, 2014



Everyone knows that becoming an elite athlete requires an amazing amount of dedication to physical exercise, sports medicine care, and diet. However, have you ever considered the impact that cavities and overall poor dental health could have on your athletic performance? A 2013 study found that poor oral health had a negative impact on the performance of Olympic athletes. The study was led by Professor Ian Needleman of the University College London Eastman Dental Institute, and was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The study surveyed 302 athletes from Africa, the Americas, and Europe who participated in the 2012 Olympic games. Initial oral exams revealed that 55% of the athletes had cavities. 75% had gingivitis, which is the early stage of gum disease. 15% had signs of the irreversible gum infection periodontis.

The researchers noted that though the athletes received superior support when it came to their physical health, their overall oral health was comparable to that of economically disadvantaged populations.

So how exactly might poor oral health impact your athletic performance?

Reduces quality of life: 42% of the athletes said that they were bothered by their oral health issues on a daily basis. If you have an aching tooth, can’t chew with one side of your mouth, or have some other oral discomfort, it can easily detract from your day to day satisfaction with life.

Lessens focus: Additionally, if you have any of the above tooth problems, it’s easy to let those dental bothers take center stage. 18% of the surveyed athletes said that their oral health impacted their training in a negative way.

Risk of further infection: Poor oral health can impact more than just your teeth and mouth. As doctors begin to take a more holistic approach to their patients, the mouth-body connection becomes more apparent. A recent study found that people with chronic oral health problems are 40% more likely to have other chronic health issues.

If you’re an athlete, you have reason to be proud of your athletic accomplishments. Just remember to take care of your oral health just as you take care of the rest of your body. Not only are you safeguarding your performance, but you’re protecting your overall health. If you want to know if your oral health is up to par, come into Active Dental today to get started with oral procedures like teeth cleaning, dental implants, etc.


This is a sponsored post. Β All opinions expressed in this post are 100% mine.

About Has 2130 Posts

Shannon Gurnee is the author of Redhead Mom formerly "The Mommy-Files", a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

2 Responses to “Can Cavities Affect Sports Performance”

  1. Jayne Nelson says:

    I must say that this is one of those areas that athletes tend to ignore. They spend all their time trying to stay in shape and neglects simple things like maintain good oral health which as reported quite nicely in your article can lead to problems. Food for thought i guess??

  2. The training procedure for any olympic athletes is intensified, but getting oral health into shape is usually not part of their routine. Most of the athletes have poor oral hygiene which could impair training and performance. They consume large amount of sugary and acidic drinks as well as carbohydrates which is slowly damaging their teeth. In order to optimize their performance, practicing good dental hygiene habits and proper diet is recommended, to facilitate the health and wellbeing of all our elite athletes.

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