International study finds teen athletes have better oral health

If you see pediatric and teenaged patients, do you notice a difference in the oral health between the athletes and those who aren't athletes? A new study in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry (November 11 2013) finds that while adolescent athletes might brush their teeth more frequently than their peers, they also drink more soft drinks and consume more chocolate.

Researchers in Finland conducted a survey via computer-based questionnaire at two junior high schools in 2011. They analyzed the differences in answers between 1,230 athletes and nonathletes.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, overall, athletes had "more favorable" health behaviors compared with their peers. Generally, they ate and brushed their teeth more frequently. Researchers also found that girls exhibited better oral health behaviors than boys.

While the health behavior of young athletes is generally better than that of their peers, continuous oral health education should target all adolescents, the researchers concluded. Also, the study authors recommended that information about healthy sources of energy should also be given to growing boys.

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