Olympic athletes may be killing it on the track, but out of the stadiums and gymnasiums, they are failing at one of the simplest and most essential of life's tasks... maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
They ski faster, jump higher and are more skillful with their bodies than the vast majority of human beings on this planet. Olympic athletes represent the 99th percentile of the population and are capable of feats of strength, dexterity and speed that leave the rest of us spellbound in admiration. They are the very best and fitted; sleek examples of beautiful human biological machinery. But where Olympic athletes fail to break above the standard… where they are, in fact, failing is in the maintenance of good oral health and hygiene.
The 2012 Report on the Oral Health of Olympic Athletes
During the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, many athletes reported having dental problems. In March of the following years, in response to these reports, the International Olympic Committee released the Consensus Statement on Periodic Health Evaluation of Elite Athletes. This evaluation called for a greater effort to assess and understand the dental health of professional athletes, such as those that partake in the Olympic Games. This call was heeded by the scientific community and resulted in a study that analyzed the athletes who participated in the 2012 London Olympic Games. This study, which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, confirmed the International Olympic Committee's suspicions: professional athletes tend to have a below-average standard of oral health.
What Did the Study Reveal? We Asked Dr. Jason Diamond to Explain...
"The study essentially focused on a sample of 278 athletes, representative of 25 different sports," says dental implant surgeon in New Jersey, Dr. Jason Diamond. "Over 40% of the athletes reported being 'bothered' by the state of their dental health. A further 28% of the sample said that their oral health was actually having a detrimental impact upon their quality of life, while 18% said it affected their performance as athletes."
"The real shocker came in the diagnoses of these athletes' dental problems," says Dr. Diamond. "A shocking 55% presented with tooth decay and 45% had lost a substantial amount of dental enamel to acid erosion. A fair portion of the athletes was also found to be suffering from gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums caused by bacterial infection."
It's quite surprising to learn that there is such a prevalence of poor dental health amongst Olympic athletes, who are supposed to be the pinnacle of human strength and health. What we would like to know is why this is the case?
The Cause of Poor Dental Health amongst Olympic Athletes
"Sports and energy drinks are often the culprit behind dental erosion and tooth decay," explains the NJ dental implant expert, Dr. Jason Diamond. "These beverages are quite acidic in content and are packed with sugar. Athletes who train all day and rely on sport's drinks to provide them with energy are therefore repeatedly exposing their teeth to acid and sugar, which encourages bacterial activity."
Fair enough... but surely these athletes, who routinely perform on an international stage, should be able to afford the right dental care to combat these problems? Apparently not!
Being an Olympic Athlete Is Not an Income Earner
Just because you have worked your way into the top echelons of physical performance on the track, in the pool or in the gym does not in itself earn you an income. The money lies in sponsorship deals or in playing for a professional sports team. Without backing from a big brand name, such as Adidas, Nike, Coca Cola or the myriad other companies, it is far from uncommon for Olympic athletes to experience financial difficulties.
Many countries offer prize money for winning medals at the Olympics. Gold-winning American athletes are awarded $25,000, silver gets $15,000 and bronze, $10,000. But, in many cases, it just doesn't pay to be a top athlete. The Track & Field Athletes Association recently released a survey that indicated that half of the top-performing track and field athletes in the United States earn less than $15,000 a year!
What Can Be Done To Improve The Dental Health Of Top Athletes?
"It's essential that Olympic athletes register for EAHI - Elite Athlete Health Insurance - because then they can get access to the National Dental Referral program, which provides the member with free routine dental exams and screenings and non-elective treatment for problems that include tooth decay," explains Dr. Jason Diamond. "Athletes who haven't made it into the Olympics or who have been excluded from EAHI because there are insufficient slots (as is frequently the case) will need to accept that seeing a dental healthcare professional is as important as seeing a medical doctor. You aren't saving money by avoiding the dentist... rather; you are allowing your problems to compound, which will only necessitate more extensive and expensive treatment later on."
"Then, of course, there are the preventative measures all athletes can take to avoid dental problems," explains the NJ dental implant surgeon. "If cutting down on sports and energy drinks is out of the question, then athletes must increase their efforts to mitigate the damage done by these beverages. Drinking more water, chewing sugar-free gum and brushing and flossing more frequently can help to prevent tooth decay and acid erosion."
One thing is certain: If dental problems are impacting upon the quality of life and even the level of performance Olympic athletes are capable of, then the right professional dental care is a necessary investment; and not something to be renegaded to the last position in one's list of financial priorities.
About MALO Advanced Oral Rehabilitation
Dr. Jason Diamond is a member of the uniquely trained team at MALO Advanced Oral Rehabilitation, which is a cutting-edge dental implant facility located in Rutherford, New Jersey. Inspired by the European implantologist who pioneered the breakthrough "All-on-4" implant protocol, Dr. Paulo Malo, the team of professionals at MALO AOR has successfully provided comprehensive teeth replacement solutions for thousands of patients from all over America and abroad. When possible and considered safe, the doctors at MALO AOR utilize immediate function implant techniques for their shorter treatment time, lower cost and their ability to give patients fully functioning replacement teeth in as little as a single day, with a single placement procedure.
Contact Malo AOR
To arrange an appointment with Dr. Jason Diamond or one of his colleagues at Malo AOR, call 877-625-6872. Alternatively, those interested can fill out the Contact Form on the Malo AOR website and will be contacted shortly by their administrative staff.