People have biases when it comes to footballers. They’re handsomely paid, well trained, and healthy. All these might be true on the outside, but they also have challenges on the inside. For example, do you know that they have poor oral health?
How Serious Is It?
In a UK study among its top-flight footballers, almost 40% of them had active tooth decay. Around half a percent, meanwhile, suffered from irreversible gum disease.
Dental erosion was prominent in more than half of them while around 80% had gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. In over 70% of them, around 50% of their mouths developed gum disease. In the United States, teeth replacement due to sports-related injuries resulted in $500 million costs each year. These problems also accounted for as many as 39% of the total dental injuries, especially those affecting the mouth and face.
Many factors contribute to the growing dental issues among athletes such as football players. Two of the most popular ones are:
1. Sugar Intake
How does sugar lead to poor oral health? It is a common component in sports drinks and even nutritional supplements. The 20-ounce regular Gatorade contains as much as 34 grams of sugar. Even when the drink says “no sugar added,” it may have alternative sugars. Either way, it’s easy to go beyond the recommended limit of 37.5 grams per day for men and 25 grams daily for women.
2. Non-compliance of Wearing Mouth Guards
Games such as football might be less of a contact sport than wrestling or even rugby, but players are still vulnerable to mouth injuries. Take for example being hit by a ball traveling at high speeds on the face. It can knock several teeth out.
For this reason, gaming organizations recommend players to wear a football mouthguard even during practices. In reality, only 64% of them do so, according to dentalcare.com.
Finding the Solutions
Dental health matters for athletes, especially football players. For one, issues affecting the teeth and mouth can affect their performance. In the same UK study, players complained about pain. Around 20% said it reduced their quality of life while 45% revealed that their poor oral health bothered them.
Second, many people look up to football players. Some of the highest-paid athletes in the world achieve such status not only because of their salary but also because of their market value.
They earn a lot of money from endorsements, which their fans patronize. What they drink and wear can be significant for teens and young children who emulate them.
Most of all, these health issues are preventable. By lowering their consumption of sugar, they can reduce gum inflammation and tooth decay, which can, later on, increase the risk of tooth loss.
Studies, meanwhile, revealed that when collegiate and high school footballers began wearing mouth protectors, the number of orofacial injuries dropped to 0.05% from 50%.
In the end, improving dental health among football players boil down to two things: reducing their consumption of sugar and complying with the rules.