It is common for people who usually practice sports to take care of many aspects of their everyday life in order to maintain the best possible condition to prevent from injuries or greater problems. Controlling the diet, respecting the rest periods or just using the right material or specialized sports clothes for their practice are, among others, some of the routines athletes have. But … be careful! Are you an athlete? Are you permanently suffering from a specific type of injury? You might have some problems with your oral health which is affecting you.
Not long ago, studying the relation between sports performance and oral health was not common. However, surveys driven during the recent years have shown that oral health problems do not only influence the general well-being, but also athletes’ performance, especially in the case of those who compete in elite levels.
Bacteria and infections
The first thing to note is that people who play sports have a higher risk of tooth decay due to the high consumption of carbohydrates and rehydrating sugar drinks. An excess of bacterial plaque, caries that at first glance can not be seen by us but detectable by our dentist, or an inflammation in the periodontium can cause recurrent joint and muscle injuries or make the recovery much more difficult and slow.
At this point, many of you probably find yourself asking “but why?”. Well, teeth are supplied by blood and the blood carries bacteria to the rest of the body. In case of oral problems, bacteria will be spreaded throughout the body, affecting the muscles. Transfer of bacteria to muscles can produce loss of fibrillary tone, causing muscle fatigue or joint inflammation, reason enough to cause tears, joint pain, or tendon injuries.
Dental malocclusions and other pathologies
For both sport professionals or amateurs, to suffer pain can make the difference between success and failure, or between enjoyment and suffering. Bad teeth alignment, or in other words, acording to the latest studies malocclusion can produce 30% of back and neck muscle pain. This pathology can also cause upsets in the balance, hindering the correct sport practice.
On the other hand, it is well-known athletes take care of their food in some way or another, depending on the degree of their professionalization. Besides the diet, absence of dental pieces does not allow a good food chewing and, therefore, the digestion is altered. It is convenient to do the digestion correctly, since it is a process that requires a lot of blood flow and yet, to practice sports without risk, it is recommended to focus our blood flow on our muscles.
Bruxism, of which we have spoken on previous occasions, is a common problem among athletes due to the tension they accumulate. Bruxism also produces muscular contractures, which will cause headaches and neck pain. A contracted jaw makes difficult to control those movements which need the head, neck and shoulders, limiting potential sport performance. More oxygen, less stress and less lactic acid is what you get with a relaxed jaw, thus increasing resistance.
And to finish, a little reminder to all people who practice either contact sports or activities, such as rugby or football: do not forget to use material which protects your mouth; now you know what may occur if your mouth is not completely healthy.