Fitness not fillings

Fitness not fillings

Following on from our post about energy drinks and sports drinks, new research has revealed that elite and professional athletes have substantial amounts of oral disease despite positive oral health behaviours.[1]


The new study, published in August 2019, was conducted by the research team at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute for Oral Health and Performance and leads on from the research carried out at the London 2012 Olympics. This time, 352 Olympic and professional athletes were given oral health screening to measure tooth decay, gum health and acid erosion. Each athlete was also asked to complete a questionnaire to assess their oral health behaviour.


The results revealed that 94 per cent of the athletes reported brushing their teeth at least twice a day and 44 per cent said that they also flossed regularly. However, the researchers found that the athletes regularly used sports drinks (87%), energy bars (59%) and energy gels (70%) during training and competition. Previous findings also indicated that frequent carbohydrate intake and reduced salivary flow may be the reason for high caries risk and disease levels in athletes.[2]


The oral health examinations revealed substantial amounts of oral disease – almost half the athletes (49.1%) had untreated tooth decay and the majority showed the early signs of gum inflammation. Furthermore, about a third of the athletes stated that their oral health had a negative impact on their training and performance.[3]


Fortunately, the athletes have agreed to consider adopting even better oral hygiene habits. They intend to reduce their consumption of sports drinks and attend more frequent dental visits to help improve their oral health. The research team are now designing an oral health intervention study based around behaviour change.


CALCIVIS® is committed to helping dental professionals to deliver engaging oral health education that encourages patients to improve their oral health. The CALCIVIS® imaging system uses bioluminescence to visualise active demineralisation on the surfaces of the teeth, in real time at the chair side. The evidence-based images enable dental professionals to see the very early signs of caries and dental erosion so that first response treatment can be initiated to prevent disease progression. The glowing CALCIVIS® images also captivate patients and help them to understand their oral health. This motivates them to take preventive steps necessary to prevent further damage to their teeth.


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[1] Needleman I. et al. Oral health-related behaviours reported by elite and professional athletes. British Dental Journal, Aug 2019 ; 227, 276-280. [7th October 2019]

[2] Needleman I. et al. Oral health and impact on performance of athletes participating in the London 2012 Olympic Games: a cross-sectional study. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2013; 47, 1054-1058. [7th October 2019]

[3] University College London. Elite athletes have poor oral health despite brushing twice daily. Science Daily, Science News. Aug 23 2019. [7th October 2019]

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