Some very unpleasant news from the world of sports: study seems to show that football players have “worryingly bad teeth”, according to the BBC. What are the implications, and how could some of the most overpaid people on the planet have teeth that are downright horrid? Here are the news and the reasons behind them.
A study looked at 8 different clubs in England and Wales, and of the 10 players sampled in each team, at least 4 had cavities. The study also found that some 53% of all players had some degree of tooth erosion and significant damage to the tooth enamel, but only 45% reported being bothered by the state of their teeth, and only 7% said that their poor oral hygiene affected their ability to perform on the field. The study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, and can be viewed for free there, for anyone who wants to get involved in the technical details of this interesting study.
The implications for these numbers are fairly far reaching. First of all, why are all these wealthy men stuck with bad teeth? The cause is only partially poor nutrition and sugar consumption, the usual suspects when it comes to tooth decay and epidemic dental problems. But the life of a football player is quite stressful, as constant practices and physical use of their body may leave them wanting more nutrients than they are taking in, and this will eventually lead to dental erosion. The semi-contact nature of football also makes it so that a tooth guard must be worn, but scrapes of the enamel and such are inevitable when on the field. In more extreme cases, the tooth can completely decay because of these circumstances, and there is nothing left to do but to replace it with dental implantation.
A study into the oral health of Olympic athletes done in 2012 also found that nothing was better at all in this realm either. Some 40% of athletes have significant tooth decay, compared to around 30% of the population for the same age. The problem is that the athletic lifestyle leaves room for little else aside from practice and this, coupled with a lack of education, is what seems to be the major problem, according to Stijn Vandenbroucke, head of medicine and science at West Ham. They vowed to make education a priority and to make sure that athletes have better oral hygiene in the future.
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