Dental health for athletes

After the brilliant results of our athletes from Team D in Pyeongchang (South Korea), it is worth taking a closer look at their great successes. And not proverbially but literally – with regard to the mouthguard.

Dr. Siegfried Marquardt, a dental specialist from Tegernsee, looks after the German national ski cross team as team sports dentist. In addition, he takes care of some well-known professional soccer players and ski drivers with his practice and always sets Sports protective splints a. His Nuremberg colleagues from the “edel&weiß” practice led by Dr. Florian Göttfert care for ice hockey players and lugers, among others. For example, the luge team Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt became double Olympic champions! Although Wendl still had back problems at the beginning of the season. What this has to do with mouthguards and gumshields? “A lot!” assure the experienced dentists.

More success with sports protection splint

Dr. Marquardt explains, “We now know that an individually and properly fitted sports protective splint can enhance an athlete’s performance!” Not only does it prevent injuries and protect the dental and oral areas, but it has a holistic component. “It is scientifically undisputed that the masticatory system has a direct influence on posture, the musculature in the neck and back area and on the entire musculoskeletal system,” argues the 50-year-old dental specialist, and continues: “A balanced and poised body is often decisive for success or failure in high-performance sports.”

Several aspects of dentistry influence the athlete. A sports protective splint is, according to Marquardt, only one, albeit significant, part of this. In addition to balancing the body, it also grants the athlete a higher oxygen supply, he says: “The correct positioning of the lower jaw by the sports splint results in an expansion and better ventilation of the airways.” In addition, inflammation in the mouth area (e.g. periodontitis) would negatively affect the athlete’s performance.

Healthy starts in the mouth

A study of the Oral Health of athletes has shown that 76 percent suffer from gingivitis and 55 percent from caries. To prevent this, he said, a balanced and proper diet is important in addition to dental and oral care. The Sports dentists are convinced: “Especially for athletes, healthy starts in the mouth.” Further studies have shown that the chewing organ influences balance and coordination as well as concentration.

Sports protection splint not only for competitive athletes

Dental health for athletes, ski, sports dental splints, Marina Jagemann.Marquardt vividly explains the ascending and descending chains of the musculature, which interact like a cogwheel and need to be stabilized. That is why he is very much in favor of integrative cooperation between sports physicians, osteopaths and physiotherapists, but also internists and cardiologists. And, together with other members within the newly founded German Society for Sports Dentistry (DGSZM), he also demands “that we dentists must be better involved, especially in competitive sports!” Here, for example, the Americans are far ahead of us.

Protect as early as possible

Of course, junior athletes in a wide variety of sports would also be well advised to familiarize themselves with a dental or mouth guard at an early stage, he said. Marquardt: “Anyone who wants to optimize their sport, protect themselves preventively and also protect their increase performance wants to, should study the sports dentistry context.” For the very young athletes who are still in the growth phase, he says, a prefabricated splint made of plastic is sufficient, which, soaked in hot water and supervised by the sports dentist, is fitted to the upper or lower jaw.

As soon as growth is complete, a completely customized splint made of special plastic is then useful, he says. Marquardt elaborates, “Depending on which splint it is and whether it is placed in the upper jaw (e.g., for contact sports) or in the lower jaw (e.g., for training), there are movable and graceful designs but also rigid and stable forms.” They all one the individual fitting and the Balancing through the correct allocation of the upper and lower jaw.

Everything in balance thanks to proper therapy

Thereby the Analysis of the chewing movements and its effects on the musculoskeletal system. However, since incorrect fitting of the mouthguard also has negative effects on the musculoskeletal system, the DGSZM intends to offer interested dentists further training opportunities in the future: “Experience and further training in the field of sports dentistry are necessary cornerstones for the qualified therapy.” The dentist is convinced that by providing targeted support to clubs, associations and/or even individual athletes, the knowledge gained can also be transferred to popular sports.

Costs for sports protective splints

The Cost of the sports protection rails according to Dr. Marquardt, range from less than 50 euros (prefabricated for children) to about 300 euros (individual for adults). They are not a health insurance benefit, he said, unless a therapeutic functional component is added. “But the insurance doesn’t pay for a bicycle helmet either,” argues the sports dentist with conviction in favor of the far-reaching protection of the sports splint.

An important aspect for the father of two, however, is also the large area of Sports Traumatology: “We dentists have a special responsibility in this field and likewise a duty to educate, so that every athlete makes the right decisions in the event of an accident and can consult the appropriate sports dentist.” In this regard, the DGSZM offers an outstanding platform, various curriculums and master programs.

Sport also an important balance for the medical practitioner

Dental health for athletes, Marina JagemannMarquardt reveals, “I don’t always succeed, but of course I regularly try to keep myself physically fit and even consider the principles of sports dentistry.” Whether at home or traveling, he always has his running shoes with him and tries to pursue his hobbies everywhere: Tennis, skiing and mountain biking. Does he also wear a protective dental splint during sports? The answer is: “Of course!” Actually, that was also a matter of course.

Text: Bettina Sewald

Photos: Alan-Hurt Jr./Shutterstock.com; Urban-Sanden/Shutterstock.com/edel&weiss