Dental Tribune Europe
FDI World Dental Federation has recently recommended that athletes make oral health their number one priority. (Photograph: alice-photo/Shutterstock)

Poor oral hygiene may impair training and athletic performance

GENEVA, Switzerland: With the summer sports season in full swing, FDI World Dental Federation (FDI) has partnered with Sunstar to release a series of sports dentistry resources for athletes, sports medicine physicians and sports organisations. Since poor oral health can affect both athletic performance and general health, the organisation strongly recommends that both elite and amateur athletes make oral health needs their top priority.

Sports-related stress can lead to dehydration, dry mouth and bruxism. Energy beverages and certain foods and supplements that contain added sugars and acidic ingredients may cause dental caries and increase the risk of periodontal disease and tooth erosion. Moreover, a dental emergency, such as a gingival abscess, an infected tooth or third tooth eruption, before an athletic competition can impair performance or even prevent the athlete from participating, according to FDI.

“A healthy mouth contributes to a healthy body. Poor oral health can have disastrous effects on overall health and athletic performance. We want to build upon this understanding and make sure it’s part of the conversation between oral health professionals and their patients,” said Dr Kathryn Kell, FDI President.

According to the organisation, ignoring oral health may decrease athletic performance in several significant ways. For example, it may reduce the affected athlete’s quality of life and well-being. Furthermore, dental caries and periodontal disease can cause or maintain inflammation and infection in the body. Finally, practising contact and combat sports without proper protection may subject athletes to an increased risk of oral and dental trauma.

Besides following a regular oral hygiene routine, FDI recommends wearing a mouth guard, preferably custom-made, even when only occasionally engaging in contact sports. It also advises counteracting the effects of acidic and sugary energy foods and drinks by rinsing the mouth out with water after eating or drinking them. Athletes should also opt for drinking water in order to stay hydrated throughout the day.

“We are proud to work with FDI to actively address athletes’ oral health needs. These resources will be shared widely with athletes, trainers, and health professionals to promote oral health and good oral hygiene practices for superior athletic performance,” said Dr Marzia Massignani, Senior Manager of Scientific Affairs and Corporate Communications at Sunstar.

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