Around the world, people practice sports at the amateur and elite levels. Whether athletes practice their sport as a hobby or professionally, their oral health is an important element of their general health and impacts their athletic performance.
Poor oral health severely impacts athletic performance
People who regularly participate in sports are more likely to suffer from dental conditions such as erosion and dental caries (tooth decay), xerostomia (dry mouth) and trauma. Maintaining good oral health helps to improve performance and helps to prevent injuries, for example by using a mouthguard during contact sports.
A survey1 carried out on 399 athletes during the 2012 Olympic Games found that:
- 55.1% had dental caries
- 44.6% suffered from moderate to severe dental erosion
- 76% had periodontal disease, ranging from localized to generalized gingivitis
- More than 40% of athletes were ‘bothered’ by their oral health: 28% reported an impact on quality of life and 18% on training and performance
Head of Medicine and Performance, Leeds United
Promoting sports dentistry for better oral health outcomes
Sports medicine contributes to healthier athletes and better performance. In recent years, sports medicine has evolved into a multidisciplinary field that recognizes sports dentistry as a key element.
Sports dentistry is the branch of dentistry dealing with prevention and treatments of the pathologies and injuries of the oral cavity and the stomatognathic system related to sports practice. The stomatognathic system is the anatomical and functional system comprising the teeth, jaws, associated soft tissues, facial muscles and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
Provide a guideline for dentists and all levels of sports players to be aware of the impact sport has on oral health
Provide toolkit to introduce the impact of the stomatognathic system in sport to athletes, dentists, sports physicians, and sports institutions (including national/international sports federations)
Promote sports dentistry globally
The Sports Dentistry project is supported by Sunstar.