Poor Oral Health Severely Impacts Training And Athletic Performance, Says FDI World Dental Federation

11-06-2019

If they want to win, elite and amateur athletes need to make their oral health a top priority.

FDI World Dental Federation (FDI) couldn't agree more. Today, the organisation released a series of sports dentistry resources for amateur and elite athletes, dentists and sports medicine physicians, and sports organisations. The release coincides with a packed summer sports season, including the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019, the Roland-Garros (French Open) finals, and the start of the US Open (golf), to name a few.

Oral injury or trauma are not the only dental dilemmas that arise while practicing sports:

  • Sports-related stress can lead to dehydration, dry mouth, and teeth-grinding.
  • Energy beverages and certain foods and supplements contain added sugars and acidic ingredients, which can cause caries and increase the risk of gum disease and tooth erosion.
  • A dental emergency – such as a gum abscess, infected tooth, or wisdom tooth eruption – before a competition can impair performance or even prevent the athlete from participating at all.

"A healthy mouth contributes to a healthy body. We don't always consider the disastrous effects of poor oral on overall health and athletic success," said FDI President Dr Kathryn Kell. "We want to build upon this understanding and make sure it's part of the conversation between sports medicine physicians and their patients."

Ignoring oral health impacts athletic performance in several significant ways:

  • Poor oral health affects quality of life and well-being, two key elements for strong athletic performance.
  • Tooth decay and gum disease can cause or maintain inflammations and infections in the body.
  • Some athletes are also at an increased risk for oral and dental trauma and injuries when practicing contact and combat sports without proper protection.

FDI recommends wearing a mouthguard (custom-made is best) when engaging in contact sports, even if the sport is practiced occasionally. FDI also advises athletes to brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste; visit the dentist at least once a year; counteract the effects of acidic and sugary energy foods and drinks by rinsing with water afterwards; and opt for water to stay hydrated throughout the day.

"We are proud to work with FDI to actively address athletes' oral health needs," said Marzia Massignani, senior manager of scientific affairs and corporate communications at Sunstar. "Whether you're an Olympian or out for a Sunday morning jog, your oral health impacts your performance. These resources will be shared widely with athletes, trainers, and health professionals to promote oral health and good oral hygiene practices for optimal athletic performance."