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Elite Athlete Dental Health

October 22, 2014

The dental health of elite athletes often suffers.



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.


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.