If we said that England might have a better chance of winning the World Cup by having their teeth looked at, you would probably think we’d gone mad. However, this slightly amusing idea may not be so far from the truth if we take a look at some recent studies that have been undertaken.
The overall conclusion seems to be that professional footballers seem to have poor teeth and, while it may seem fantastical, this could well be affecting their pitch performance.
In a study on footballers at 8 different clubs in England and Wales, the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that nearly 4 out of 10 players had teeth cavities with (wait for it) West Ham United’s medical staff suggesting that athletes often had worse oral health than the general UK population.
The dentists from the International Centre for Evidence Based Oral Health at University College in London looked at 187 players’ teeth and compared them with the national averages.
The results concluded that;
Over 50% had dental erosion
45% were concerned by the state of their teeth
7% said they felt it affected their ability to train and even play.
A staggering 40% had tooth decay (in comparison to 30% of people with a similar age within the general population).
Some may well say this is a surprise finding, but are we really that shocked?
We all know that general oral health will be indicative of your general bodily health because what you put in your mouth to eat is entering your body and being processed by it. So it stands to reason if you eat lots of sugary foods you’re going to have issues with your teeth and performance.
So what kind of issues are players facing?
Some will suffer from abscesses that are so severe they cannot train or play.
Some will suffer from sensitivity when they are drinking or not getting sleep – this obviously would have an impact on energy levels.
Now, while we can say these issues aren’t so important, they actually are when you’re paid to play a sport. In fact, it’s no secret that top athletes strive for top levels of performance through very small changes in their nutrition and even their actual exercise. They’re looking for optimum fitness for performance, so it’s easy to see why bad teeth, a toothache or abscess might impact on that target.
Interestingly, previous studies highlighted similar findings with the athletes competing in the London 2012 Olympic Games. In short, their teeth were broadly speaking in much the same state as those of the footballers.
So who took part in the study?
Manchester United, Hull, Southampton, Swansea, West Ham, Brighton, Cardiff and Sheffield United all took part.
It seems that many clubs are taking it as an opportunity to help their players achieve better health and of course perhaps, so they can cover off every single eventuality in pursuing of their goals!