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Oral health screening should be routine in professional football: a call to action for sports and exercise medicine (SEM) clinicians
  1. Ian Needleman1,
  2. Paul Ashley1,
  3. Richard Weiler2,3,4,
  4. Steve McNally5
  1. 1 Centre for Oral Health and Performance, UCL Eastman Dental Institute, London, UK
  2. 2 Sports Medicine & Sports Science Department, West Ham United Football Club, West Ham United FC Training Ground, Chadwell Heath, Essex, UK
  3. 3 University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust & UCLH Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health, London, UK
  4. 4 The FA Centre for Disability Football Research, Burton-Upon-Trent, UK
  5. 5 Football Medicine & Science Department, Manchester United Football Club, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Ian Needleman, Centre for Oral Health and Performance, UCL Eastman Dental Institute, London WC1X 8LD, UK; i.needleman{at}

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In the January 2016 issue of BJSM, we showed that professional footballers in the UK have poor oral health and this is associated with negative self-reported impacts on training, performance and well-being.1 Since more than 90% of each senior squad participated in the study, we can be confident that the results represent a true picture. These findings are also consistent with data we collected during the London 2012 Olympic Games and a recent systematic review.2 The emerging picture is of poor oral health in elite sport with important self-reported impacts on self-reported performance. In this call to action for oral health screening in professional football we: (1) place players’ oral health alongside UK norms, (2) make the case that footballers are at high risk of poor oral health and (3) set out the case for screening and how this could lead to improved oral health in professional football.

How good is footballers’ oral health?

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  • Twitter Follow Ian Needleman at @IanNeedleman

  • Contributors IN wrote the first draft of the editorial. PA, RW and SM contributed input and comments.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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