Broadly, in medicine, many health trends tend to run together. That means that health in one area indicates health in others, and when one mentions professional athletes – some of the healthiest and fittest people on the planet – we can be forgiven if we imagine that they exhibit the same remarkable fitness throughout their body.
It was with some surprise, then, when a British study was posted in a dental journal recently. In this study, athletes from a variety of sports were surveyed, and given a dental exam. To their surprise, a whopping 49 percent of them exhibited undiagnosed dental decay. A full 77 percent of them had swollen, inflamed gums, a clear harbinger of gum disease and the need for periodontic care or receding gums treatments down the road. For a group that takes its health so seriously, this was unexpected, to say the least.
Since this study emerged, numerous reasons for this trend have been put forward. The high carbohydrate diet followed by many athletes – especially endurance athletes – has been earmarked as a cause. High-carb diets will typically coat the teeth in sticky carbs, which as they break down in to sugars, produce acids, very tough on your enamel. The sugar content of many sports rehydration drinks is also a potential suspect.
Researchers have also speculated that the constant, heavy air intake of endurance athletes could be playing a role. This heavy mouth breathing dries out the mouth, reducing the availability of saliva to rinse the teeth, and break down the sugars in their diets. Drier mouths also tend to be more alkaline, a situation that has been linked to plaque growth.
In time, the research will likely lead us to the answer. For periodontics experts, and receding gums treatments, your friends at National Periodontics are ready to help you.