Of all people, why do elite athletes tend to have bad teeth? You would think that people who spend so much time and effort on their bodies would not neglect their mouths, but they do. Paul Piccininni, the dental director for the International Olympic Committee has seen the problem first-hand time and time again.
He bluntly commented on the issue, saying, “they have bodies of Adonis and a garbage mouth.” He has seen many athletes over the year who have had serious dental problems, some of them bad enough to keep an athlete out of a competition. Even Michael Jordan had a an undisclosed dental issue that could have kept him out of the 1984 games when he was Team USA’s top scorer.
But why do the mouths of these otherwise models of perfect health tend to suffer? According to Piccininni, training is a big issue. Everything an athlete does to train for an elite competition like the olympics seems to be hard on teeth, from frequent eating to dehydration and teeth grinding. Drinking acidic and sugary sports drinks and energy gels add to the problem, as does the stress of competition and neglect as a result of travel.
In some athletes’ cases, access to care and financial resources are the issue. Medical treatment at the Olympics is free for athletes, so some will put off going to a dentist until they know their care will be paid for. Still other athletes are too focused on the more competitive parts of their bodies to bother with their teeth.
Like the rest of us, it seems that most of these athletes start taking better care of their teeth in the end. This may come as a result of a missed competition, an unexpected procedure, or even a decrease in performance.
A healthy mouth is important for all of us, including athletes. A straight, attractive smile is also essential for some of us. After appearing in so many TV shows, movies, and commercials, even Michael Jordan sees the benefit of taking care of his teeth now.
Contact Dr. Frost in Creve Coeur, MO if you’re thinking about braces or Invisalign. After you see how easy the process has become, you will want to make the investment in yourself. Simply fill out our online form or give us a call at 314-567-1888.