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London 2012 athletes found to have very bad teeth


Dentists working with the athletes that took part in the London 2012 Olympics have revealed that they found ‘striking’ levels of tooth decay in those competing at the games. A fifth of the athletes surveyed said that poor oral health had some effect on their training and performance.

The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, revealed that cavities, tooth erosion, and gum disease were all common problems, and researchers added that athletes, as a group, were found to have worse dental health than other people in similar age groups. Lead researcher Professor Ian Needleman said ‘Our data and other studies suggest that, for a similar age profile, the oral health of athletes is poor. It’s quite striking.’ He suggested that the large amount of carbohydrates that athletes were consuming, combined with the sugary energy drinks, could be leading to tooth damage. Prof Needleman also added that the stress on the immune system from training could leave athletes at risk of oral disease.

Although the competitors who visited the dental clinic during The Olympics were obviously more likely to have problems with their teeth, the results of the research still made for shocking reading; of the 302 athletes treated, from 25 sports, 55% showed early signs of decay, 45% had enamel erosion, and 76% had gum disease. A third of those assessed said that their oral health affected their quality of life and one in five said it affected their athletic performance.

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