Relationship Between Dental Health We know that sports injuries have a lot to do with oral health. Although the relationship is, at least, complicated to apprehend, the truth is that their relationship has been proven several times. Let us not forget, however, that the relationship is not always a reason to think of a causality (that something is cause of something else). This question seems more complex than we might think at first. What do we know to date?
A few years ago, many media echoed an interesting British meta-study that showed what some dentists and specialists in sports preparation were saying: the health of the mouth can be a very serious problem for sports performance.
Although we do not know exactly the reason, perhaps due to the myriad of biological factors that may have been involved in the process, we do know some relationships, no matter the redundancy. For example, we know that tooth decay is associated with lower sports performance. We also know that an active life predisposes us to have fewer episodes of periodontitis, a problem associated with inflammation.
The study we were talking about showed lower performance and other sports problems whose incidence is higher among elite athletes, according to the study, who take less care of their mouths. Returning to the question with which this section began, could our dental health cause us an injury? In something as concrete as the Achilles tendon?
The truth is that, although there is surely some kind of justification at the biological level, we can never affirm this with any firmness. In any case, and even knowing that they are related, we cannot say for sure that dental health, and that of something as concrete as the Achilles heel, are directly related in the sense that something causes other.
This brings us to the next point: which came first, the chicken or the egg? In this case, what came first, the injury or decay? Trying to avoid extreme simplicity, we will say the following: the relationship is probably not unidirectional. With almost total security, given the complexity of the biological factors involved, the health of our mouth will mean a worsening of our quality of life and a potential injury.
In the same way, good health, achieved after exercise, a good diet, a healthy lifestyle … will involve better dental health. A concrete example we saw before: athletes who exercise more suffer less periodontitis. In the same way, we saw the inverse relationship. This helps us to verify what we were saying before: we cannot affirm that “a caries has caused an injury”.
Not even in the simplest of comparisons can we say that tooth decay is guilty of sports deterioration. Why? We will repeat it once again: because although they are related, this relationship is not direct, at least to what we know today. How does this sense leave us? First, in that, although many specialists try to relate both concepts, the truth is that we do not have enough evidence to do so except for a few pathologies.
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We know that these two directly affect the health of athletes. How? Dental malocclusion can cause back, neck and jaw pain, for example, that result from bad bite. In the case of athletes, these pains can be exacerbated since the tension that occurs in the mouth is greater.
By badly supporting the teeth and not getting a good bite we can generate excessive tension in the neck and cervical area. In addition, if this persists and lengthens over time we can even get injured due to the effect that this tension exerts on the rest of the locomotor system.
On the other hand, malocclusion is one of the main factors of dental wear, which affects the first phase of digestion, vital from any point of view. Bruxism is something that many people suffer and that can result from stress. In the case of athletes, bruxism can be even stronger, making dental wear more accelerated and the effects on cervical muscles even more painful.
Cavities, of course, also cause problems, as do any type of oral infection. In the case of athletes, the problem becomes more acute as the conditions affect the muscles and joints. This relationship, although vague, is also related for a long time. Interestingly, tooth decay can be one of the eternal companions of athletes.
Although establishing a clear and unique relationship about oral health and athletes is almost impossible, the truth is that it is speculated that the high intake of carbohydrates, especially from gels and sports drinks, can be one of the nutritional causes that cause diseases like decay in elite athletes. It has also been said how eating disorders can damage tooth enamel when vomiting is caused, especially in those sports that require a low body weight such as gymnastics, boxing or horse riding.
Another cause that can contribute to the appearance of these pathologies is the oral dehydration that appears during sports. Saliva has a moisturizing and remineralizing effect. The dryness can help the erosion of the dental pieces, eliminating the enamel, which helps the appearance of decay and other problems.
In general, if we maintain a healthy diet, we opt for supplements and supplements that do not leave traces of sugar in the teeth (or maintain good dental hygiene), in addition to the sport itself, we will be doing everything possible to not suffer poor hygiene dental, thus avoiding a lot of potential injuries.