The Impact of Oral Health on Athletes’ Training and Performance

impact of oral health on athlete performanceEvery Olympic athlete engages in intense training with the hope of winning a gold medal. But oral health is not usually regarded as an important part of the routine. However, the toothbrush is set to become as important as athletic shoes to these athletes. It has now emerged that the impact of oral health affects Olympic athletes’ performance. This is according to a study led by Professor Ian Needleman of the University College London Eastman Dental Institute.

According to the publication of this research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the research team recruited 302 athletes from the London 2012 athletes’ village to participate in the study. It entailed an oral health check-up as well as an individual assessment of how oral health affected their quality of life and sports training and performance.

Most of the athletes, who represented 25 sports, were from Africa, North and South America, and Europe. And 34% were from track and field, while 14% were from boxing and 11.4% from hockey.

Out of these, 55% of the athletes were found to have tooth decay (dental caries). Those who were found to have tooth decay into the dentine (meaning it cannot be reversed), were 41%. But more than 75% of the participants had gingivitis (a primary stage of gum infection), while 15% had symptoms of periodonti (a non-reversible gum disease).

The researchers noted that a significant number of sports men and women who took part in the London 2012 Olympic had low levels of oral health that were just the same as the problems seen in most of the underprivileged people.

The research established that nearly half of the Olympic athletes who took part in the investigation had neither undergone a dental examination nor had a hygiene appointment in the preceding year. Also, 8.7% of them had never visited the dentist.

According to the study, 42% of the athletes said that they were concerned about oral health issues, while 28% said the quality of their life was affected by it. Besides, 18% of them said that their training or performance was being negatively affected by bad oral health.

Professor Needleman is of the view that an oral health assessment should be included in every single athlete’s normal medical care. The researchers assume that the relation between oral health, wellbeing and performance may be as a result of oral disease, and also inflammation and a low self-esteem.

Prof. Needleman was quoted by Medical News Today as saying that it is obvious that the aching and discomfort arising from tooth decay, dental erosion, infected wisdom teeth or periodontal disease will affect one’s performance. There are psychological effects from, for instance, bleeding gums, bad smell and poor looks. Regular dental care as well as general maintenance of the oral environment will go a long way in preventing these conditions.

So the upshot is that irrespective of whom you are – an athlete preparing to go to the Olympics in Rio in 2016, or just a member of the general population, picking up a toothbrush might enhance your performance on the track or in the gym!

Baby Teeth From The Victorian Period May Predict Health Of Children Today

baby teethSome interesting new research of baby teeth from children who died during the 1845-52 Irish famine may be able to help predict the future health of children today. By studying the teeth, researchers were able to get clues of the health of the baby’s mother and the health of the child in the early years.

These same findings are now being tested in baby teeth from children born recently. If researchers find similar patterns they can know the health of mothers and children in current day and help predict potential problems in adulthood.

Read all about this interesting study that was published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology here: Victorian baby teeth could help predict future health of children today — ScienceDaily.

Dental Health Care May Put A Strain On Household Finances

dental health careMany households in America do not have dental insurance because they simply cannot afford it.  But having to pay for dental health care can put a strain on household finances in many other countries as well.

In an article from Medical News Today, they write about a new study that showed that some catastrophic dental expenses were equal to or higher than 40 percent of some household’s capacity to pay.

Dental services can cost households a large portion of their available income and push many people into long term debt. Dental public health advocates should push for dental care to be included in discussions about health coverage. Read the full article from Medical News Today here: High costs of dental care leave many with too little money for basic necessities – Medical News Today.

Tooth Fillings With BPA Could Cause Behavior Problems

bpaThe topic of BPA is controversial in the field of dentistry. BPA, short for bisphenol A, is a chemical used to make plastics. It has been found in some food packaging and canned goods. It is also used to make dental fillings that are tooth colored.  These are becoming more popular than the sliver colored amalgam fillings. Some research has found that tooth fillings with BPA might cause behavior problems in children.

The research is not totally clear.  The study tied prenatal exposure to BPA to hyperactivity and anxiety, especially in girls.  But the effect was small and researchers pointed out that they didn’t measure the levels of BPA in particular.  This means that there was no way of knowing if any other chemicals were leaching out of the fillings. It is generally assumed that the amounts that leach out are very tiny.

So, while it sounds like more research needs to be done on the topic, it is good to know that we may want to be cautious when it comes to our children’s fillings. Read the full article about BPA in fillings from Genervra Pittman here: Tooth Fillings With BPA Tied To Behavior Problems|Dentist.Net

Nanoparticles Release Drugs That Reduce Tooth Decay

nanoparticlesSome researchers are finding ways to use nanoparticles to reduce tooth decay. Therapeutic agents that are used to reduce dental plaque are often washed away by saliva, but the team of researchers developed a way to keep these drugs from being washed away.

To deliver the farnesol (therapuetic agent) to the areas that have plaque, researchers created spherical masses of particles known as nanoparticle carriers.  The drug is secured within it. The outer layer of the carrier is able to stay in place despite the saliva to deliver the drug.

Read all about this very interesting study on Medical News Today here: A novel way to apply drugs to dental plaque Medical News Today.