Do You Play Sports? Oral Health Advice For Footballers And Athletes

Looking after your teeth may not seem a priority for competitive sports people, but it should be, advises Epsom dentist, Dr Andrew Murphy

When we think of celebrities, such as actors or singers, we usually expect them to have a nice looking smile.

The same can’t always be said about some of our sports personalities though, although some have certainly undergone a teeth whitening treatment!

At The Clocktower Dental Clinic, we believe that everyone, no matter what their profession, deserves to have healthy teeth, and, if they wish, teeth that look great too, through the use of cosmetic dentistry. Playing sports though, can present its own set of unique challenges which we take a look at in today’s blog.

Physical damage

One of the most obvious risks for some types of sports are broken, or knocked out, teeth. Not all sports people run this risk, but anyone participating in a sport where there is physical contact certainly will do. Whilst some, like boxers, do wear mouth-guards on a regular basis, few footballers do, and even some rugby players don’t. Mouth guards are a good way to provide extra protection from damage to your teeth during the game.

Anyone who has lost a tooth, or damaged one to the point where it will need to be extracted, may be considering having a dental implant. Whilst we are generally happy to recommend this method  as a superior option for replacing missing teeth, those who plan to continue playing a contact sport may wish to wait until they have stopped playing before having them, and, instead, use a removable denture as a temporary measure before eventually having the implants placed upon ‘retirement’ from their chosen activity.

Sports drinks

Long gone are the days when, before a football match, the team would dine on fish and chips, and maybe a bottle of beer. Sports nutritionists now plan diets of professional players to a very fine degree. For us mere mortals who play at an amateur level, very often for fun, we are more likely to buy into the ‘need’ for products such as sports drinks. Unfortunately, these can be very damaging to the teeth. Not only do they often contain large quantities of sugars, but are also often quite acidic too. Anyone who consumes these drinks on a regular basis can probably expect to suffer from not only tooth decay,  but also enamel erosion, and possible extra sensitivity of the teeth.

Most sports that last for a relatively short period of time simply shouldn’t require the use of energy drinks of any sort, especially at an amateur level. A good diet beforehand should see you through a game quite easily as long as you make sure to stay hydrated (see later).

The post sports ‘sugar boost’

Most of us have probably done it following a long walk, a run, or even a leisurely game of golf. We finish the game and reach for a bar of chocolate to replenish our energy levels quickly. This might feel good but actually does little practical good at all. You will need to eat, obviously, but a healthy meal should do the trick. Chocolate is full of sugar and will also stick to the teeth for some time after you have eaten it.

Dehydration

As we have mentioned in previous blogs, being dehydrated on a regular basis greatly increases the risk of gum disease as ‘bad’ oral bacteria thrive in those conditions. Playing any sport is likely to lead to you being dehydrated if you don’t drink sufficient liquid before and after playing. For longer sports, it is advisable to drink during as well. Make sure that you do take fluids on board and especially just before you go to bed. Nothing beats water for this purpose and we definitely suggest that you avoid those high sugar sports drinks that we mentioned earlier!

Overall oral health

Everybody should aim to have the healthiest mouth possible and this should go without saying. For sports people though, it can take on a different level of importance. Playing a sport at a competitive level requires focus, but this can be tricky at the best of times, with our everyday life problems sometimes distracting us. The same can be said if we have a painful tooth, or if our gums are sore. This type of pain is often ‘niggling’ and persistent and is likely to distract us from our performance, potentially affecting results. So it pays to make sure that you look after your teeth if you want to do the very best that you can at your chosen sport.

Epsom sporting and non sporting types all have the chance to have healthy teeth, with good quality regular home care combined with professional supervision at The Clocktower Dental Clinic.  If you would like to make an appointment to see one of our dental team, please call us on 01372 720136.