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Nutrition and oral health in sport: time for action
  1. Ian Needleman1,2,
  2. Paul Ashley1,2,
  3. Tom Fairbrother3,
  4. Peter Fine4,
  5. Julie Gallagher1,2,
  6. Daniel Kings5,
  7. Ronald John Maughan6,
  8. Anna Katarina Melin7,
  9. Michael Naylor8
  1. 1 Centre for Oral Health and Performance, UCL Eastman Dental Institute, London, UK
  2. 2 UK IOC Research Centre for Prevention of Illness and Protection of Athlete Health, London, UK
  3. 3 Parkrun Global, London, UK
  4. 4 Continuing Professional Development, UCL Eastman Dental Institute, London, UK
  5. 5 Aspetar, Doha, Qatar
  6. 6 Sport Science Nutrition, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
  7. 7 Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Institute of Preventive and Clinical Nutrition, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  8. 8 Performance Nutrition, English Institute of Sport, London, 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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What is the problem?

Elite athletes have poor oral health, common negative self-reported performance effects and a lifelong burden for disease management.1–3 One central determinant of oral health is nutrition and in particular the consumption of dietary sugars, acidic food and drinks and eating behaviours. However, nutrition is also clearly of major importance in managing and improving athlete performance. Therefore, this call to action is to recommend strategies to prevent or mitigate the risk from nutrition to the short-term health and performance of athletes and to the long-term oral health of all active individuals. The target audience includes athletes, health professionals (nutritionists and dieticians, sport and exercise medicine practitioners, dental professionals), scientists in related fields, sport policy organisations and industry.

Call to action

Given that the mechanisms by which carbohydrate-containing or acidic supplements can affect oral health are well established, it is important to develop mitigation strategies to reduce the risk of possible adverse oral effects while maintaining the performance benefits. Based on best evidence for effectiveness,4 …

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  • Contributors IN, PA and JG are clinical academic researchers in oral health. RJM, AKM and DK are researchers in nutrition. MN is Head of Nutrition, English Institute of Sport. TF is a sport and exercise scientist, communications manager for Parkrun Global and athlete. PF is a senior teaching fellow in oral health. IN and PA wrote the first draft of the paper. All authors contributed to revision of the draft. The recommendations were discussed and agreed with participants at a symposium, Nutrition, Oral Health and Performance, University College London, 28 July 2017.

  • Funding The following organisations supported the symposium but had no input into the development or content of the paper: Institute of Sport Exercise & Health (ISEH), GlaxoSmithKline and the BDJ.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

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