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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More