News / Health

Survey: Poor Oral Health Among Olympians

Healthy teeth and gums can help athletic performance
Healthy teeth and gums can help athletic performance

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on Olympians and oral health

Joe DeCapua
Olympic athletes train long and hard to achieve peak performance.  But a new study indicates training should include regular dental check-ups. More than 300 athletes at the 2012 London Olympics took part in a survey on oral health. They represented 25 sports, with most competing in track and field.


Ian Needleman, who led the research, said, “We put together a hypothesis that since oral health can affect quality of life it could have an impact on their training and performance. And that's really what led to this research.”

Needleman is professor of restorative dentistry and evidence-based health care at the University College London Eastman Dental Institute.

“What we did for the day to day research was to carry out a detailed examination of the oral health of athletes. And these were athletes participating in the games that came along to the dental clinic. And the dental clinic is part of a major medical facility that’s always available in the Olympic village to games’ participants,” he said.

Athletes underwent examinations of their mouths, teeth and gums.

“We found a lot of tooth decay, which was surprising. More than half of athletes had tooth decay. And for a lot of them it wasn’t just one tooth. It was many teeth. But apart from that, lots of other issues – gum disease, which was really present in a lot of the athletes. Dental erosion, which is teeth wearing away due to acidic food and drinks.  And trauma – damage which you might expect from some sports, which involve contact or risk of trauma,” he said.

Needleman said that  the oral problems are surprising, given the fact that many athletes are only in their teens and 20’s.

“They’re a young group. They are otherwise very well supported medically – very health aware and training aware. But for some reason oral health doesn’t seem to have got onto the radar.”

Researchers also collected a lot of anecdotal evidence about how poor oral health affected competitors.

“It might have been pain preventing them training. And then one young guy telling us that he really hadn’t been able to train properly for a year, which is an extraordinary condition to be in. And clearly, if his training was affected then performance would be. We know very well that oral health problems can affected people’s confidence. People, for instance, who have frequently bleeding gums, often feel a bit embarrassed about that – less confident about being with others. And sport performance is to a great extent related to confidence,” he said.

Problems were found even among U.S. athletes, despite the wide availability of dental care in the country.

Needleman said there’s also growing evidence that infection or inflammation in the mouth can adversely affect the rest of the body. For example, inflammation may increase risk of injury and the ability to heal.

He added that the survey results for elite athletes may shed light on the oral health of the general populations of their home countries.

“What it suggests is that some of the challenges to oral health [experienced by] these athletes will exist in the general population. And not surprisingly there is also a very strong effect of social and economic status. So, these things are not equally distributed in populations.”

More research will be conducted to develop better ways to prevent oral problems in athletes. It’s known that frequent carbohydrate intake, possibly from sports drinks, may contribute to the problems. Also, intense training could weaken immune system response to infection.

Needleman said many teams have contacted him about the research.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: gull
October 09, 2013 5:38 PM
jeez: why are you focusing on grammar and not the content of this article?

trying to get a conversation going on the website about an article's grammar is off-topic and a waste of time.
work on prioritizing...


by: Youngwoon from: Tampa
October 06, 2013 1:18 PM
As an English learner, I would like to discuss about some grammars in this article. I think these two sentences have faults of grammar. But this is only my opinion, I need other people's thought about this.

1) "We know very well that oral health problems can affected people’s confidence."
= "We know very well that oral health problems can affect people's confidence."

"And sport performance is to a great extent related to confidence,” he said"
="And sport performance is of great extent related to confidence," he said

Thank you

In Response

by: Molly from: Seattle
October 08, 2013 8:05 AM
You are right about sentence #1: it should be "can affect." As for sentence #2, you are incorrect. The phrase is, indeed, "to a great extent."

As for your comment, you meant to say, "I would like to discuss some of the grammar in this article." (The plural form of "grammar" is rarely encountered. It might be used if you were comparing the grammar of two or more languages.) Also, "faults of grammar," while technically correct, is a bit stilted. American English speakers are more apt to say "grammatical errors" or "grammatical mistakes" or "grammar mistakes." And your last sentence is a run-on sentence. You cannot join two complete sentences (independent clauses) with a comma. To remedy this, you could change that comma to a period or a semicolon. You could also revise the sentence and introduce a conjunction.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid