Brightening Athletes’ Smiles at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

1121970_38284485Competitions in the Olympics have moved into the dental chair. 

Throughout the games, the Procter & Gamble Company has sponsored dentists to help athletes achieve top oral health in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Athletes will receive oral care products and educational materials at the dental clinics situated in each of the Olympic Winter Games facilities, where dentists will also offer routine dental care, dental screenings and emergency services.

No one wants a repeat of the 2012 Olympics, when poor dental health was shown to hinder athletic’ performances.

You might presume that for these world-class athletes to remain in top shape, they must have equally “fit,” or healthy, mouths. Yet, dental reports from the London Games indicated that more than half of athletes had shockingly poor oral health – worse than that of the average person their same age. Nearly 55 percent of athletes had signs of cavities, with most having irreversible decay – talk about flexing your bad breath! Even more troubling, 3 out of 4 athletes suffered from gingivitis, or early stage gum disease. The biggest kicker? Many found it worsened their training and performance, whether on the track, the field or in the gymnasium.

“It happened in the past that a dental emergency or poor oral health has seriously influenced the performance of an athlete at one of their most important events,” Dr. Paul Piccininni, a coordinator of dental services for the International Olympic Committee at both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, noted in a Procter & Gamble Company press release.

One reason that the mouths of these athletes were so sub-par is that almost half of the participants had not undergone a dental examination or hygiene care in the previous year. Dentists, alongside Olympians, are looking to change that this year.

For the 2014 Games in Sochi, dental services will be extended for up to 600 Olympic athletes, coaches and officials.

“Maintaining good oral health and hygiene is a critical part of an athlete’s overall health regimen and, in turn, their effectiveness,” Dr. Tony Clough, the lead onsite consultant during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, explained to the source. “Surprisingly, however, there are a lot of elite athletes that lack access to care and preventative products.”

The International Olympic Committee points out that this message of quality oral health – steering clear of gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath - reaches beyond the slopes of Sochi. Maintaining a problem-free smile is important at all times when an athlete is training or competing.

“We believe that every day is full of opportunities to open up to the world and that the more confident you are in the health of your mouth, the more confidently you open up to the world around you,” Dr. Paul Warren, DDS, Director of Global Professional and Scientific Relations, P&G Global Oral Care, concluded in the press release.

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