Scientists at the University College, London (UCL), may have found the reason why some athletes struggle with poor oral health despite the use of good oral hygiene practices for healthy teeth.


Using British athletes as participants, scientists interviewed 352 English people and found that, although they were more likely to brush twice a day and floss their teeth, they still grappled with poor set of teeth.

Those who participated in the study spanned a total of 11 sports including football, cycling, swimming, rowing, hockey, sailing, athletics and rugby.

According to the latest study, published in the British Dental Journal, about 94 percent of them were found to have been in the practice of brushing their teeth twice a day compared to the 75 percent of the public.


Moreso, smoking rates and diet were much better in the elite athletes and 44 percent of them flossed regularly unlike the public which reported only 21 percent. What, then, is the cause of poor oral health among them?

Julie Gallagher, a UCL researcher, said the study showed that 87, 59, and 70 percent of the athletes used sports drinks, energy bars, and energy gels respectively and this constantly bath their teeth thereby increasing the risk of erosion and decay.

According to her, behavioural and hygiene changes such as the use of additional fluoride from mouthwash, more frequent dental checkups, and a reduction in the intake of sports drinks would help improve oral health.


“The sugar in these products increases the risk of tooth decay and the acidity of them increases the risk of erosion. This could be contributing to the high levels of tooth decay and acid erosion we saw during the dental check-ups,” Gallagher said.

There is also a previous research that suggested that the mouth becoming dry due to heavy breathing during sports can result in the teeth obtaining less protection from saliva in the mouth, hence the discoloration.

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