Athletes are known to take extra special care of their bodies. After all, they need them to excel on the field, right?
Although their oral care routines are seemingly no different (94 percent of athletes surveyed said they brushed twice daily and flossed regularly), a study of a few hundred athletes showed their oral health was below average.
In fact, out of 352 Olympic and professional athletes who compete in sports like cycling, swimming, football and rugby, almost half of them had untreated tooth decay, and most of their gums were inflamed.
But why? Researchers believe sugary sports drinks, energy bars and gels are contributing to the alarming numbers.
It’s common knowledge that sugar leads to tooth decay. How does the sugary soda or sports drink — or the too-often candy bar — lead to poor oral health?
Your mouth is full of bacteria, some of them good, some of them bad.
Some of the bad ones, researchers found, produce acid when they come in contact with sugar. Acid erodes the enamel that coats your teeth. Enamel is what protects your teeth from tooth decay. Without it, your teeth are more susceptible to decay and other problems.
Luckily for humans, the minerals found in your saliva, like calcium and phosphate, work to reverse the process of acid eroding enamel. But those minerals can only do so much when they’re constantly under attack from acids caused by sugar.
Over time, the enamel is destroyed, and that’s where cavities start. Cavities are the holes in your teeth that form as a result of tooth decay. When cavities go untreated, it can cause pain and tooth loss.
Advice for athletes: Look for sports recovery drinks that aren’t loaded with sugar.
And most important: Schedule regular checkups at Dr. Tim Chauvin’s office to keep your oral health in check!