The Connection Between Athletes & Poor Oral Health

Athletes are typically praised for their high level of wellness and health. However, did you know athletes tend to have more teeth-related issues than most? A recent study found that untreated tooth decay and gum inflammation was still prevalent among elite athletes despite regular brushing and flossing. Keep reading for some athlete related dental advice from Dr. John Gerling and Dr. Joseph Ryan at McAllen Orthodontic Group.

Some athletes’ tooth related issues stem from the consumption of high-acid drinks, gels and energy bars. These all can weaken tooth enamel and damage teeth due to high sugar content and acidity. Studies have shown that nearly half of elite endurance athletes had untreated tooth decay, and the majority of them had early signs of gum inflammation. This is despite these athletes otherwise having good oral hygiene habits.

The acid found in sports drinks and gels dissolves tooth enamel. This is a process called decalcification, and can lead to cavities. Unfortunately, tooth loss and decay are permanent. Once enamel dissolves, it does not come back. Additionally, the sugar in sports drinks and gels doubles the risk to the tooth enamel.  If you insist on drinking a sports drink, there are sports drink options available using stevia, a natural sugar, which is better for your teeth than products using sugar or chemical sugar substitutes.  

Athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment need to be especially careful because sports drinks are even harder on teeth with orthodontic appliances. For all athletes, whether they are in orthodontic treatment or not, it is best to skip the sports drinks and gels. One should opt for water or other less-acidic choices. Additionally, seeing your dentist and orthodontist regularly is crucial.

It is important to note that not just sports drinks and gels cause these issues. Other sugary drinks such as soda, sweet tea, and bubbly flavored water pose a risk to your oral health as well. Here are  the top rated energy drinks with Stevia to review.  As always, if you have any questions about your oral health please contact our office.