Did You Know There Is A Surprising Connection Between Athletes And Tooth Decay?
Athletes are known for taking excellent care of their bodies. However, studies have shown that even despite brushing twice a day, these high performance individuals have more tooth decay than the average person. In a 2013 study published by the the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a discovery was made between athletes and tooth decay. At the 2012 London Olympic Games, researchers tested 278 athletes and found that 55% had untreated dental problems and 76% displayed symptoms of gingivitis, even though they maintained a daily brushing and flossing routine. According to the study, 94% of the subjects admitted to daily brushing, compared to 75% of the average population.
So, How Are Athletes And Tooth Decay Related?
Many athletes consume a high carbohydrate diet and some researchers believe that the consumption of sports drinks, carbonated beverages, energy bars along with the decrease in saliva flow during high performance exercise has a lot to do with the results of the study.
Sports drinks, energy gels and carbonated beverages contain a lot of added sugar for an energy boost. Along with being highly acidic, these drinks can contribute to a wearing of the enamel over time. Once the enamel wears off, it doesn’t grow back.
Citrus fruits such as oranges are also consumed to provide a boost of energy during high performance exercise. The acid in the fruit, when consumed at high levels, can also contribute to enamel breakdown.
Carbohydrates such as bread and pasta are typically part of an athete’s diet as the startches in these foods break down into glucose, which can provide extra energy. However, many of these starches can also sit on the teeth and provide a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Plaque develops when the elements in starches and carbohydrates are left on the teeth. Bacteria consume the plaque and generate acids which break down the enamel of the tooth. If care is not taken to remove the plaque on a regular basis, the tooth decay can escalate into gum disease and even bone loss.
The connection between athletes and tooth decay is especially troublesome for those with braces. Extra care needs to be taken when consuming energy drinks and bars as the carbohydrates that collect on the teeth can cause decalcifcation around the braces themselves. If the food material is not effectively removed, it can leave permanent white spots on the teeth and lead to cavities.
How The Bond Between Athletes And Tooth Decay Can Be Avoided
Probably the best way to reduce excessive tooth decay, especially for those with orthodontics, is to choose water instead of sports drinks. It is simple to digest, hydrates and helps to cleanse the teeth in the process. However, for some athletes, their regimen requires the consumptio of sports drinks and energy gels. In these cases, it is recommended to use a straw and promptly rinse with water afterward to help reduce the amount of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
Proper brushing for at least two minutes twice daily along with regular flossing helps keep the mouth healthy for athletes.
If neither of these options seem to work, your Spring Hill, Florida dentist may recommend a flouride rinse.
Talk To Us About Your Athletes And Tooth Decay Concerns
Remember that as an athlete, it is critical to take extra care with your at home dental routine. See your dentist and hygienist on a regular basis in order to deep clean the areas that can’t be addressed with a toothbrush or floss.
If you have questions about your dental hygiene as an athlete, come in for a check up. Please call The Dental and Denture Care Center at (352) 848-1050 or contact us through our website here to schedule your appointment today. Our team of dental experts are here to give you the best smile of your life.