Athletes don't take care of their teeth: Study

Michael Phelps (right) and Ryan Lochte hold up their medals on the podium.

Get this: Those beaming smiles from olympic gold-medal winners aren’t all that healthy. In fact, a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that a fifth of athletes surveyed from the 2012 London Olympic games said their poor oral health actually damaged their training and performance.

Researchers at the University College London found that athletes, as a group, had worse dental health than other people of a similar age. “Of the 302 athletes examined, from 25 sports, 55% had evidence of cavities, 45% had tooth erosion and 76% had gum disease,” reports BBC News.

So what gives? Lead researcher Professor Ian Needleman told BBC News that damaged teeth were most likely the cause of eating large amounts of carbohydrates regularly, and often refueling with sugary energy drinks.

Needleman, director of the International Centre for Evidence-Based Oral Health, added:

The stress on the immune system from intense training may leave athletes at risk of oral disease and that a fixation on training, preparation and other aspects of health may leave little time or awareness of oral health.

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