Dental health specialists Remarkable Smiles have teamed up with our athletes to carry out pioneering research on the impact of oral health on performance.
Director of Remarkable Smiles, Amit Koshal, met Chloe Maudsley, our managing director, at a Marketing Derby event. He heard how Derbyshire Institute of Sport wraps world-class support around local athletes to give them the best chance of winning medals at future world championships.
Amit explained: “These athletes get fantastic support with nutrition, strength and conditioning, psychology and physiotherapy – but DIS hadn’t look at issues around oral health.
“High-performance athletes who train hard and eat a well-balanced diet still risk serious health problems if they don’t have healthy teeth and gums.
“Gum disease makes people significantly more likely to develop heart and kidney disease because the infection can spread from the gums to other parts of the body via the bloodstream. Yet many people think it’s just a minor inconvenience if they spit blood when they clean their teeth.”
Amit started to look at the DIS athletes and found that they all had some infection, either tooth decay or gum disease or both. He is now providing a programme of help and support for them and monitoring the results.
Back in 2015, a study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine after 187 professional footballers were examined by dentists. It was found that nearly four in 10 had active tooth decay and eight in ten had gum disease.
That study was carried out by University College, London (UCL), and Amit has been in touch with professors there about his early findings with the Derbyshire athletes. He will be keeping UCL informed as his work continues.
Amit said: “UCL was very interested that we had access to so many high-performing athletes from a range of disciplines and we will now be doing some trailblazing research on sports performance and oral health.”
There are a number of reasons why elite athlete could have a higher incidence of teeth and gum problems than the general population, according to Amit.
- To fuel their bodies they eat carbohydrates more frequently throughout the day than less active people, which can contribute to tooth decay;
- Energy drinks and gels, which they consume, are highly-acidic and wear away the teeth;
- During training and competing they breathe through their mouths to get more oxygen into their bodies, which dries up saliva that would otherwise protect teeth.
Chloe Maudsley said she is delighted to have Remarkable Smiles on board.
She said: “Oral health was not something we had considered, but Amit showed us conclusive evidence about the links between tooth decay, gum disease and other serious health problems. No-one, as far as we know, has done any serious research on how oral health may impact on athletic performance. It will be wonderful if our collaboration not only helps our athletes to be healthier and happier throughout their lives but produces data that can help future generations of sportspeople.
“We provide support services to our athletes free of charge because they already have to self-fund their trips across the UK and the world to compete. We couldn’t do what we do without the help of our business sponsors and supporters and we are particularly thrilled to have Remarkable Smiles on our team.”
Pictured below are (left to right): DIS cyclists Kyle Gordon and Tom Ward; Remarkable Smiles dental therapist Cedric Mukunzi; Remarkable Smiles director Amit Koshal; MD of DIS Chloe Maudsley; cyclist Will Perrett.