The 2014 Winter Olympic Games are on. It is with national pride that I note the performance of our Canadian athletes. They are a truly dedicated and focused group with the single minded goal of performing at peak ability and excellence.
To achieve this, they endeavour to maximize all aspects of their mind-body connection. Peak physical and mental health must be developed and maintained. An integral component of this is oral health. The International Olympic Committee has espoused the need for oral health and produced a booklet to define what they consider this to entail (www.oympic.org).
Obviously it is difficult to compete at peak performance levels if you have dental issues. Paul M. Piccininni, BSc, DDS (of Toronto), and René Fasel, DMD (of Zurich) in their article Sports Dentistry and the Olympic Games present an evaluation of the games from a dental perspective reviewing the Games from 1984 to 2004. The statistics are remarkable. The average number of dental visits over the 10 games was 472 athletes and attached team members per games. They concluded:
“The dental health of athletes is often poorer than that of the general population, and may result in acute or chronic problems that can compromise an athlete’s performance. The possibility of an athlete losing four hard years of training due to an avoidable dental illness or injury is unacceptable, and steps must be taken to prevent these occurrences.”
Their observation about the athletes’ dental state acknowledges that many come from places around the globe where the state of dentistry is not as it is here. This underscores the reason why the Games offer more than emergency dental care for injuries sustained during the competitions.
If athletes’ performances may be negatively impacted, then how do we compare?
Like them, we ought to have healthy mouths for exactly the same reasons – to perform up to our potential. Poor oral health impacts our day to day performance. It may also have long term detrimental impact on our general well being. The ancient Romans said “Mens sana in corpore sano “ which is translated as, “A sound mind in a healthy body.”
When did you see your dentist last?
Remember oral wellness, whole health!