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The Sports Page

By Dr. Frank Stechey

Last issue we discussed how both athletes and coaches devoted considerable time and effort to ensuring players stayed in good physical condition and were well trained for their sport.

We also began to see how coaches especially lacked skills in maintaining players in a health condition. Proper health begins with a clean and functioning mouth. With proper oral habits, players can eat and receive proper nourishment to maintain stamina during practice and games.

Let’s take a look at another area important to an athlete’s health: Maintaining Good Oral Health.

First of all, regular dental check-ups should be done on all athletes by the Team Dentist at the start of each playing season. Regular dental check-ups with a daily routine of brushing and flossing helps maintain good oral health and avoids many preventable dental conditions that can affect athletic performance.

One of the most common problems is pain and soreness when chewing. This condition results in eating softer, easier to chew foods that may lack essential nutrients for peak performance.

Other examples of poor oral hygiene include infected gums that can suddenly erupt, causing pain, fever and discomfort. Although treatable with antibiotics, it can take up to 36 hours to minimize pain. Antibiotics can also make athletes weaker while they are on the medication. Gum infections can also spread to other players via common items such as water bottles.

A sudden blow to the face or jaw may result in a jaw fracture if wisdom teeth are present. Dentists trained in sports dentistry can evaluate which wisdom teeth are most prone to causing the potential for jaw fractures and recommend removal of these teeth before the season starts. It is common for players to be out for three to four months as a result of such a fracture.

Migraine headaches, often misdiagnosed and treated with powerful medications, which can affect athletic performance, may be the direct result of TMJ or tempero-mandibular joint misalignment. Dentists are trained to correct such conditions without medication.

Good oral health is very much a part of the overall health and performance of an athlete. Dentists are doctors too and should be considered a vital member of any athlete’s and team’s health care.

Call 905-527-8294 to see if your dentist is a member of the Hamilton Academy of Dentistry or for assistance in finding a dentist for your athlete and/or team.