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

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Crowdfunding Helps Save Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit

Smithsonian turns to Kickstarter to raise more than $700,000 to help preserve the spacesuit worn by the first man to walk on the moon More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs