Professional football must take oral health seriously
4 November 2016
UCL Eastman researchers and Premiership team doctors have joined forces to call for oral health screening to become routine in professional football.
In an editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine* Professor Ian Needleman, Dr Paul Ashley and colleagues from Manchester United FC and West Ham FC argue that the sport must adopt preventative behaviours.
A previous UCL Eastman study* of over 180 elite footballers found that 37% had active dental decay, 53% dental erosion, 5% moderate to severe and irreversible inflammatory gum disease. There were also negative self-reported impacts on quality of life, training and performance.
Professor Needleman said: “We have shown that poor oral health effects the training, performance and well-being of a significant percentage of these exceptional athletes.
“We recommend the introduction of regular screening by clubs and the integration of oral health promotion into general athlete care.
“The evidence supporting oral health screening looks stronger than for many other musculoskeletal screening procedures.
“Moreover an enhanced universal preventive strategy should be adopted for all footballers rather than just individuals with identified disease."
Clubs such as Manchester United FC have already adopted enhanced oral health care strategies with Jose Mourinho reportedly ordering his players to the dentist this summer.
* This study was undertaken by our Centre for Oral Health and Performance.