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Oral health and elite sport performance
  1. Ian Needleman1,
  2. Paul Ashley1,
  3. Peter Fine1,
  4. Fares Haddad2,
  5. Mike Loosemore2,
  6. Akbar de Medici2,
  7. Nikos Donos1,
  8. Tim Newton3,
  9. Ken van Someren4,
  10. Rebecca Moazzez3,
  11. Rod Jaques5,6,
  12. Glenn Hunter5,
  13. Karim Khan7,8,
  14. Mark Shimmin9,
  15. John Brewer10,
  16. Lyndon Meehan11,
  17. Steve Mills12,
  18. Stephen Porter1
  1. 1UCL Eastman Dental Institute, London, UK
  2. 2UCL Institute for Sport Exercise and Health, London, UK
  3. 3KCL Dental Institute, London, UK
  4. 4Human Performance Lab, GlaxoSmithKline, Brentford, UK
  5. 5English Institute of Sport, Bath, UK
  6. 6Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, Edinburgh, UK
  7. 7School of Kinesiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  8. 8Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  9. 9Dental Practice, Marlow, UK
  10. 10St Mary's University, Twickenham, School of Sport, Health & Applied Science, UK
  11. 11Dental Practice, Cardiff, UK
  12. 12Past President, Academy for Sports Dentistry, Farmersville, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Ian Needleman, Unit of Periodontology, UCL Eastman Dental Institute, 256 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8LD, UK; i.needleman{at}


While the research base is limited, studies have consistently reported poor oral health in elite athletes since the first report from the 1968 Olympic Games. The finding is consistent both across selected samples attending dental clinics at major competitions and more representative sampling of teams and has led to calls from the International Olympic Committee for more accurate data on oral health. Poor oral health is an important issue directly as it can cause pain, negative effects on appearance and psychosocial effects on confidence and quality of life and may have long-term consequences for treatment burden. Self-reported evidence also suggests an impact on training and performance of athletes. There are many potential challenges to the oral health of athletes including nutritional, oral dehydration, exercise-induced immune suppression, lack of awareness, negative health behaviours and lack of prioritisation. However, in theory, oral diseases are preventable by simple interventions with good evidence of efficacy. The consensus statement aims to raise awareness of the issues of oral health in elite sport and recommends strategies for prevention and health promotion in addition to future research strategies.

  • Teeth
  • Dentistry
  • Elite performance
  • Infection

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