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Will Your Dental Health Win You the Gold?

Oct 15, 2013

Dental Insurance Store has reported on how your dental health can affect your heart health, your mental health, and even the health of people around you (Keep that morning breath under control, will you?!)  Did you ever think that your oral health could affect your physical performance at the gym?  

olympic gold, teeth, oral health care
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In 2012, over 300 London Olympians were recruited to participate in a study to potentially link their athletic performance and their oral health.  The study, led by Professor Ian Needleman of the University College London Eastman Dental Institute, included athletes from Africa, the Americas and Europe.   They represented 25 sports – 34.9% from track and field, 14% from boxing and 11.4% from hockey.  I know what you are thinking… boxing?  Hockey?  Most of those guys don’t even have teeth to examine anymore!

Many of the sportswomen and men that participated in the London Olympics had poor levels of oral health.  Their oral health problems were similar to those seen in the most disadvantaged populations.  Professor Needleman stated, “Oral health is important for wellbeing and successful elite sporting performance. It is amazing that many professional athletes - people who dedicate a huge amount of time and energy to honing their physical abilities - do not have sufficient support for their oral health needs, even though this negatively impacts on their training and performance."

Results of the study were staggering.  More than 75% of the athletes had gingivitis, 15% showed signs of periodontis, and 55% had some level of tooth decay.  Almost half of the athletes had not seen their dentist in the past year and 8.7% had never been to a dentist.  Subsequently, many of these Olympians felt bothered by dental issues at some point and time and that it affected not only their quality of life, but their capability to perform at their highest physical level.  Professor Needleman advocates oral health assessments as every athlete’s normal medical care routine.  Though you may have missed the application cutoff to participate in the 2016 Olympics, it is never too late to get a dental insurance plan in order to start your training for the 2020 games!

Previous oral hygiene studies with athletes have also linked their dietary habits and poor oral health.  Many athletes, especially in the area of track and field “carb load” before events to heighten their energy levels which in the long run can be detrimental for their bodies and their teeth.  Other studies have shown that a lower carbohydrate or no carb lifestyle, such as the Paleo lifestyle, have the reverse effect on dental health and can help in repairing and strengthening the body. 

So whether you are an elite athlete training for the Olympics or an average Joe who hits the treadmill three times a week, keep your toothbrush and floss handy.  Because who knows?  By brushing and seeing your dental professional twice a year, you might just be able to add on 25 pounds onto your over head squat and smile about it!

Source: Medical News Today, Webmd, Mayo Clinic

Copyright 2013 Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC© 

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