Survey shows student athletes have better dental habits

Sep 09 2014

Survey shows student athletes have better dental habits

Survey shows student athletes have better dental habits

While kids often make the news for their health when it comes to topics such as obesity, one study defies that trend. A recent survey found that student athletes have better diet and oral health habits than non-athletes. Meanwhile, young ladies in the survey showed better health habits than guys when compared to both athletes and non-athletes. The study’s lead author was from theInstitute of Dentistry at the University of Oulu in Finland. Researchers gave a computer-based survey to 68 student athletes in grades seven through nine from two junior high schools that had more PE programs than regular schools. The study also included 1,250 seventh through ninth-graders from schools that didn’t offer extra PE. Students were asked questions about their diets — such as how often they ate unhealthy snacks, drank energy or sports drinks, whether they chewed gum, and how much money they spent on snacks. They were also asked about oral hygiene and teeth brushing habits. Results showed the physically active students reported better diet and oral health habits compared to the control group. However, girls in both groups were found to have better health habits than boys.

For instance:   

  • Ninety     percent of the athletes reported they eat regular meals either daily     or almost daily. This group was     also found to eat meals more often than the control group,     especially for lunch and dinner.   

  • The findings also showed both groups, especially athletes, drank milk and tap water more than other drinks both school and home.   

  • The non-athletes were found to eat more unhealthy snacks than athletes. Among both groups, boys snacked more than girls.

  • When     it comes oral health, while 95 percent of all the athletes – compared to 97 percent of the control group — reported brushing their teeth every day, among athletes 84 percent brushed their teeth at least twice daily compared to 68 percent in the control group.    

  • Findings also showed 25 percent of athletes and 33 percent of the control     group said they skipped brushing their teeth a few times during the week because they were tired or didn’t feel like it.

  • For both groups, the researchers found that parents and school were the most common sources for health information        

As dentists atScripps Pediatric Dentistry, we know that teens’ busy lives can make it hard to keep up with oral health habits, but as parents, there are ways to encourage them to keep their teeth healthy:

  • Make sure kids and teens of all ages brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes

  • Floss     between teeth daily   

  • Avoid sugary and starchy snacks   

  • Wear a mouthguard when playing sports

  • Don’t smoke and discourage kids from starting the habit

  • Discourage teens from piercing their lips or any part of the mouth

  • Visit the dentist regularly

Don’t hesitate to call us if your teen needs help with their dental habits – or just needs a cleaning and checkup. We are here to help parents and kids of all ages.


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