One does not automatically associate poor dental health with professional athletes, but a recent study has drawn attention to an interesting find. The findings follow a study initiated by the University College London that was published in the British Dental Journal, which concluded that out of 352 female and male athletes (representing 11 sporting codes including swimming and sailing) 49 per cent of athletes suffered from untreated tooth decay.
What was surprising is that 94 per cent of the participants practised good oral health related habits that are usually recommended by a dentist, such as brushing one’s teeth twice daily. Following this finding a natural question to ask then is why the poor oral health?
A deeper look into the problem sheds a bit more light onto the cause. Sports professionals tend to consume relatively more products known to boost energy levels, such as sports drinks and bars, particularly during training. These products are well-known for containing excessive amounts of sugar that health authorities like the NHS warn against; but that is not all. The problem is exacerbated as this exposure to sugar also increases the acidic levels in the mouth; all of which compounds the development of tooth decay.
To answer the question as to why sugar and acids are so harmful it should be noted that bacteria feed off the sugars, exposing the mouth to increased levels of bacteria.
How to avoid a high sugar diet
To avoid the devastating effect sugar has on teeth great care must be made to limit consumption of it. Here are a few ways to lower sugar consumption.
Make sensible food choices
It is not possible for most people to completely eliminate all sugars from their diet, but it is possible to make better food choices to reduce exposure of teeth to sugars and acid.
Sugar and starch can be limited by implementing the following guidelines:
- Consume a complete nutrition-rich diet comprising a range of fruits and vegetables, dairy and grains.
- Read food labels to correctly identify hidden sugars.
- Snacks should be on the healthy side, so no sticky sweet-based treats. Acceptable snacks can include cheese, peanut butter and yoghurt.
- Opt for hydrating life-promoting water instead of juices and fizzy beverages.
If it is not possible to avoid a sugary treat, consider saving this indulgence for the end of the meal or just before you plan on brushing your teeth.
Focus on oral hygiene
An effective strategy for defence against tooth decay starts with a dentist-recommended oral hygiene plan.
Harmful bacteria and germs lurk on and around teeth and gums, and it is through brushing and flossing that damage to teeth can be prevented. Another suggestion is to use approved fluoride-based oral products that strengthen tooth enamel.
Visit the dentist for preventive care
One of the best advantages of keeping scheduled dental appointments is the opportunity for early detection of dental concerns. At a dental appointment, a patient can have their teeth and gums checked and have professional deep cleaning procedures carried out.
Patients interested in finding out more about how to protect their oral health, or wanting recommendations about suitable dental products can contact qualified professional dental practitioners at a reputable dental clinic.