Waterloo Smiles Dentistry Insights Shocking State of Oral Health with Olympic Athletes
As professional dentists in Waterloo”, we disbelievingly read a study released on 30 September that made shocking reports on the state of the oral health 2012 Olympic athletes, with some athletes reportedly having never visited a dentist before. University College London researchers examined the teeth and gums of 302 Olympic athletes who visited a London 2012 Olympic Village dental clinic.
The athletes examined took part in 25 different sports:
- About one third competed in track and field
- 14% competed in boxing
- 11% in hockey
- 8% in swimming.
Most of the athletes originated from Africa, the Americas and from Europe. More than half of the athletes examined had tooth decay, with 41% of cases being irreversible.
Three quarters of the examined athletes displayed early-stage gum disease with about 15% displaying signs of periodontitis, a serious and irreversible infection of the soft tissue around the teeth. When asked, nearly half of the athletes said they had not visited a dentist or dental hygienist in the previous 12 months. One in twelve of the athletes said they had never been to a dentist before.
“Oral health is important for the wellbeing and successful elite sporting performance,” said Ian Needleman, a professor at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute.
Past studies have hinted at the poor state of oral health in athletes being attributed to the intake of energy-giving carbohydrates as well as a reduced immune function through intensive training. This study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
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If you think you are free from gum disease because you don’t have any visible signs, then you may be surprised. Gum disease doesn’t always present any symptoms or trigger pain and can often only be identified by dentists or oral hygienists.