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Footballers have worryingly bad dental health

Study finds that four out of 10 UK professional football players suffer from active tooth decay and one in 20 players has irrreversible gum disease

According to a new study, nearly four in every 10 professional UK football players suffer from active tooth decay and every 20th player has irrreversible gum disease.

The findings of the study are based on player representation and the report is published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Thus, the performance and wellbeing of a professional player is affected with bad dental health and researchers say that this problem has to be dealt with immediately. There is increasing proof that the dental health of star footballers is pretty bad but until this study, the impact of this poor dental health on their in game play has remained unknown.

The researchers, studied the prevalence of tooth and gum issues along with the effect on the performance and wellbeing of players. 187 professional football players were taken into account from eight clubs in England and Wales.

The research included five teams from the Premier League; two from Championship; and one from League One. The range of age of footballers was between 18 to 39 and the average age was 24.

A detailed dental checkup by six dentists of both tooth and gum health of each footballer was done and they were further asked questions about the effect of bad dental health on their professional wellbeing and performance.

These comprehensive check-ups showed that a majority of players had poor dental health, most of which was completely avoidable. Most players had one dental check up during the last one year.

Dentists revealed that four in 10 footballers suffered from active tooth decay, and dental erosion, in which the tooth structure was decayed by acid, was observed in 50% players.

Almost two-thirds stated that they consumed sports drinks thrice a week, though the researchers stated that the link between sports drinks and dental erosion has not been clearly found. Dentists also found that most footballers suffered from gum disease (gingivitis).

“This study provides the most reliable evidence that oral health within professional football is poor, and is consistent with research conducted in Brazil, Spain, and the USA,” write the researchers.