The impact of sport on oral health

The impact of sport on oral health

Exercise keeps your body healthy. But how does sport affect your teeth? Surprisingly, athletes are at an increased risk of oral health problems compared to the rest of the population. Studies show that about half of athletes have dental cavities, usually due to the high sugar content of energy drinks. Gum inflammation is also common (58%–85% of athletes) as well as gum disease (5%–41%). Playing sports also risks dental injuries, such as tooth fractures.

This blog post explores the potential dangers, protective measures, and essential practices for athletes to maintain a healthy, winning smile.

The risks of sport to your teeth

The intensity and contact nature of many sports increases the chances of facial injuries, with teeth often bearing the brunt of the impact. Common injuries include:

  • Chipped or cracked teeth:These can occur from falls, collisions, or contact with sports equipment.
  • Tooth avulsion:A complete knock-out of a tooth, requiring immediate attention to maximize the chance of reimplantation.
  • Tooth dislocation:When a tooth is moved out of its socket but remains partially attached.
  • Soft tissue injuries:Lacerations to lips, cheeks, or tongue can also occur.

The severity of these injuries can vary, but all demand prompt treatment to minimize damage and ensure proper healing. Early intervention can prevent long-term complications like infections, nerve damage, or tooth loss.


The most effective way to prevent dental injuries is by wearing a mouthguard. These protective devices absorb impact, cushioning teeth and jaws from blows. Different types of mouthguards exist:

  • Stock mouthguards:Pre-made and readily available, but often offer a less comfortable and secure fit.
  • Boil-and-bite mouthguards:These can be adjusted by heating and moulding to the individual’s mouth, providing a better fit.
  • Custom-fitted mouthguards:Made by a dentist using an impression of the patient’s mouth, offering the most personalized and comfortable fit.

Studies have shown that mouthguards significantly reduce the risk of dental injuries, especially in high-contact sports. Regardless of the type chosen, ensure it fits snugly, doesn’t impede breathing or speech, and allows normal jaw movement. Learn more about our mouth and bite guards in Birmingham.

Maintaining oral health for athletes

While mouthguards protect against injuries, overall oral health practices are crucial for athletes:

  • Regular dental checkups and cleanings: These allow for early detection and treatment of potential problems, preventing minor issues from becoming major ones.
  • Proper brushing and flossing: Maintain a twice-daily brushing routine and floss at least once a day to remove plaque and bacteria buildup.
  • Hydration: Staying hydrated is essential for overall health, including keeping the mouth moist and reducing the risk of cavities.
  • Diet: Limit sugary drinks and snacks, which can contribute to tooth decay and erosion. Opt for healthy options that fuel your body and promote oral health.
  • Inform your dentist: Let your dentist know about your sport and any specific concerns you have. They can offer personalized advice and ensure your mouthguard fits properly.

Maintaining a healthy smile is an integral part of an athlete’s overall well-being. By understanding the risks, prioritizing protective measures like mouthguards, and following good oral hygiene practices, athletes can ensure their smiles remain strong and healthy, ready to support their athletic journey. Remember, a winning performance starts with a healthy smile!

Posted in: Dental tips

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