Oral Health, CrossFit and Sports by Coach Gregg
The training regimen for any athlete is intense, but getting your mouth into shape is usually not part of the routine. However, research from the British Journal of Sport Medicine examining the impact of oral health on Olympic athletes, has highlighted the links between your general oral health and sports performance.
The study was led by Professor Ian Needleman of the University College London Eastman Dental Institute. He and his team recruited 302 athletes in total from the London 2012 athletes’ village to take part in the study.
Many of the elite sportsmen and women who competed had poor levels of oral health similar to those experienced by the most disadvantaged populations. 18 per cent of athletes surveyed said their oral health was having a negative impact on their performance However, more than 75% of the participants had gingivitis, which is an early stage of gum disease, and 15% had signs of periodontal disease, which is an irreversible gum infection.
Prof. Needleman who carried out the study said: “Oral health is important for wellbeing and successful elite sporting performance. It is amazing that many professional athletes – people who dedicate a huge amount of time and energy to honing their physical abilities – do not have sufficient support for their oral health needs, even though this negatively impacts on their training and performance.”
How the a persons oral health and sports performance are related is not conclusive but the overall health of a person can be affected by disease causing pain, systemic inflammation ( a key factor in heart disease ) and a reduction in self-confidence and quality of life. They point to previous studies’ findings that athletes have poor oral health, which could be linked to frequent carbohydrate intake (sugary sports drinks for rehydration and energy supplements) and reduced immune function from intensive training.
He also pointed out that all of these conditions are preventable through regular dental care and general maintenance of the oral environment. (Easy right?)
With this in mind, whether your fitness goal is limited to training for your first 5K, improving your performance, or dedicating your time to pursuing and elite level of fitness, any aspiring athlete cannot afford to ignore their oral health as part of the overall picture.
Don’t forget CFP members get 10% off routine dental services at Coach Gregg’s award winning practice – Docklands Dental (www.docklandsdental.ie)