It’s a fact that many ignore, that gum disease could be having a negative affect on your sports performance if you are professional and amateur athlete, as well as on people who do fitness in general.


Let’s look at ‘infections’. If you had an infection in a wound on your body, you would probably seek to treat it; after all you know your body will be fighting that infection, and that will weaken you whilst that happens. Pretty logical, right?

So why do people persistently ignore bleeding or inflamed gums?

Infections in the mouth are commonly ignored, and yet the body will react in the same way to an open, infected wound as it will to bleeding gums; it will pour energy into healing. Athletes are very aware of how an injury can drain their energy levels. They are also aware that to be at the top of their game they need to endure they are as physically well as they can be. An infection of any kind will impact on that goal.

Bleeding gums in Gum disease

Ironically, athletes and those of us that engage in physical activities that leave us with a dry mouth are more at risk than the average couch potato. It’s true! The reason is simple, saliva keeps teeth lubricated, it keeps plaque away from teeth and bacteria away from the gums. Saliva is a natural antiseptic and has antimicrobials within it. When your mouth is dry, you lose this natural protection. This means that athletes face increased chance of inflammation and gum disease.

This problem was recently described by Professor Needleman (Restorative Dentist and Evidence-Based Healthcare at UCL Eastman Dental Institute and Honorary Consultant in Periodontology with UCLH)  in an article published in ‘Healthy for’ as:

“A mouthful of gum disease is similar to having a gaping ulcer on your arm the size of the palm of your hand”.

The trouble is that this is out of sight, out of mind and easy to forget about.

Studies at UCL’s Eastman Dental Institute also discovered shockingly high rates of bad oral health in elite athletes leading to poorer on-field performance –  and it was not due to poor hygiene. One of the reasons suggested was the use of sugary sports drinks. These are fine if used to support training and recovery, but it seems they are being used by many as a leisure drink long after the sports session has been concluded.

The good news is that you can combat both of these athlete-related issues and prevent gum disease.

Exercise is to be encouraged and there are some simple things you can do to mitigate the risk whilst undertaking training.

  1. If your mouth is dry, sip water or chew sugar free gum to stimulate saliva.
  2. And, if you have got into the habit of drinking sugary carbs when you are not training or recovering, think again, and substitute for a healthier alternative.

If you think you may be suffering from gum disease, please give us a call. Confident Orthodontics offer advanced periodontal treatment methods that are pain free and effective.

Don’t let gum disease prevent you from being top of your game!