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Elite Athlete Dental Health

October 22, 2014

The dental health of elite athletes often suffers.

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BOB HIRSHON (host):

RS Deakin 2012 London Olympic Women's Cycling Road Race FLickr

2012 London Olympic Women’s Cycling road race. (RS Deakin /Flickr)

The dental health Olympics. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

We think of elite athletes as paragons of physical health, but competition can also take a toll on their wellbeing. This according to UCL Eastman Dental Institute clinical scientist Ian Needleman. He and his colleagues surveyed the oral health of 300 athletes attending a dental clinic at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

IAN NEEDLEMAN (University College London Eastman Dental Institute):

More than half had tooth decay, there were high proportions of athletes with erosion.

HIRSHON:

He says a combination of factors may be responsible, including exercise-induced immune suppression and a high-intake of carbohydrates and energy drinks. Increasing awareness of healthier alternatives could benefit both elite competitors and young athletes who look up to them. Needleman and his colleagues have issued a statement in the British Journal of Sports Medicine on the importance of promoting dental health in sports training programs. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.