London team investigate oral health of London 2012 athletes

It was to investigate the oral health of elite athletes and the impact of oral health on training and performance.

The study is led by Professor Ian Needleman with Dr Paul Ashley, Dr Aviva Petrie, Professor Stephen Porter and Professor Nikolaos Donos, working with the London 2012 Polyclinic Dental team led by Professor Farida Fortune from Bart’s and The London.

More than 300 athletes were recruited to take part, making it one of the most comprehensive investigations of oral health in elite athletes ever undertaken.

Professor Needleman explained the purpose of the study.

He said: ‘There are many potential threats to oral health in athletes including exercise-induced immunosuppression, difficulty in taking time away from training for oral care, and drinks high in sugars. Despite this, oral health does not usually appear on the radar for many athletes and little is known about such impacts on their performance.

‘Several athletes during the Olympic Games so far have told us how big an effect it has had on them and we will look forward to analysing the data over the next few months.’

UCL Eastman Dental Institute would like to acknowledge the fantastic enthusiasm of the volunteer dental clinic staff who worked hard to conduct the screenings.
The research continues the Institute's focus on investigating the relationship between oral health and general health and wellbeing.

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