With school back in full swing and fall sports starting to kick into high gear, parents of athletes should be aware of their children’s oral health more now than during the off-season. Why? In addition to it being time to buy oral health extras to help protect the teeth during game time, new research out of the University College of London’s Eastman Dental Institute shows some surprising data about athletes’ teeth. Here’s what you should know about your little athlete’s oral health.
According to the the UCL Eastman Dental Institute study, despite having excellent oral hygiene overall (meaning they brush and floss regularly and for the appropriate amounts of time), many athletes have more tooth decay and more cavities than the average person. This is because of sports drinks, energy gels and energy bars. These products can often pack a wallop of sugar, something many parents may not realize is present in a “sports” product.
If your child relies on sports nutrition to help maintain a competitive edge, be sure they are counterbalancing that sugar with lots of water, and that they are caring for their teeth by brushing twice a day, for two minutes at a time. They should also be flossing at least once a day.
Another issue that may be harming your child’s teeth is bruxism, or teeth grinding. Many athletes grit or grind their teeth during athletic performance. This can cause chips, cracks and microfine fractures in the teeth. Have your child pay attention during performance to see if they are a teeth grinder. If they find themselves grinding their teeth while they play (or while they don’t!), speak to Dr. Abelar about getting a custom bite guard.
The other essential sports tool that your child needs in his or her gear bag is a mouth guard – especially if your child plays a contact sport. Even if it’s just an over-the-counter boil-and-bite guard, be sure you are protecting your child’s teeth during athletics. For a more comfortable, custom fit, Dr. Abelar can create a custom mouth guard for your athlete that offers better protection and is more likely to be worn because it’s simply more comfortable than the sports store varieties.
Remember, oral health is an important part of your overall health, and safeguarding your teeth is paramount to protecting your oral health. You wouldn’t send your football player out without a helmet or your baseball player without a glove. Be sure to protect their teeth, too!
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Abelar, please call 858-866-9692.