Recent research suggests that elite athletes have a higher risk for tooth decay and tooth erosion, according to a study of triathletes in New Zealand, published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.
The following reasons explain why athlete’s teeth are at higher risk:
1. Intense physical training can cause a decrease in the amount of saliva due to dehydration and mouth breathing. Since saliva helps to protect teeth, decreased saliva can result in tooth decay.
2. The intense training also causes an athlete the need to “refuel” frequently with calories. Athletes often choose acidic sports drinks and fermentable carbohydrates (which quickly break down into sugar). Acid wears away at the enamel and sugar contributes to tooth decay.
The following photo shows a typical decay pattern seen in a person who consumes a significant amount of beverages containing sugar and acid.
Even though athletes may be categorized as HIGH RISK for dental decay and erosion, doesn’t mean that they always
get more cavities. There are important oral hygiene routines and nutritional decisions that can help prevent cavities in a high risk individual. Dr. Ted Murray and Dr. Kristen Berning
and our 3 hygienists
can help identify these risk factors and make recommendations so that the teeth are protected as best as possible.