How The Stress of Being A Student-Athlete Affects Oral Health

Being a student involves going to school almost every day, and spending about nine hours listening to lectures, writing notes, taking exams, reporting, project-making, and dealing with people around you.

There is so much to do and so little time as you spend almost half of your day being a student and, probably, the other half is utilized to recuperate after a ‘long day in school to prepare for another day in school.

If being a regular student occupies a lot of your time, imagine being an athlete on top of your school requirements! Aside from home works, exams, and reports, you will have to go on practices, work out, and compete in games usually after school.

It can be draining — physically and mentally. A student-athlete can spend the night before school studying for a History exam, completing research in Science, and juggling a group project. While in school, he or she is occupied in listening to lectures, participating in classes, and doing tasks for other subjects.

When the bell rings to announce the end of the day, a student-athlete brings his or her school bag down to hold a ball, racket, or go for a run this time. And all these activities can lead to insufficient time to enjoy other things or even just sleep.

Additionally, student-athletes are also under constant pressure to perform well in games and competitions without letting their school performance plummet.

The exhausting physical and mental activities, as well as, the pressure can stress students. Stress is a response to threat and pressure which does not only affect student-athletes but all people from different walks of life.

When we are stressed, our body undergoes a chemical reaction which increases our heart rate, accelerates breathing, raises blood pressure, and tightens our muscles. Agitation, mood swings, frustration, depression, low self-esteem, among others are indications of stress. Increased use of alcohol, drugs, and cigarette use can also be signs of stress.

Physically, stressed individuals can experience headaches, chest pain, insomnia, tensed muscles, low energy level, rapid heartbeat, and upset stomach.

Aside from mental, behavioral, and the physical indications mentioned above, stress is also bad news for the oral health as it can cause dry mouth, teeth grinding, and clenched jaw.

When the mouth lacks moisture, it can result to a dry mouth which increases the likelihood of oral infections, tooth decay, periodontal diseases as saliva flow which is vital to combat the naturally-occurring oral bacteria is insufficient.

Stress also weakens the immune system which lowers its capability to fight off bacteria and infections. When the immune system is weak, canker sores and cold sores can appear, and gum disease can develop.

As student-athletes, it is inevitable to have a full schedule since they are expected to perform dual roles of being a student and athlete with the expectation to do well in both roles. Time management can help in dealing with stress by allotting time for recreation and sleep.

Despite the need to perform well, the body and mind need to recuperate to function well and increase productivity.

If stress has already affected your oral health, visit your dentist for treatment. Since stress can cause grinding and clenching of teeth, you may request for a mouthguard to wear while you are sleeping to prevent damage to teeth. Mouthguards are also necessary for contact sports as protection against unwarranted oral injury.

How To Prevent A Painful Game Of Basketball

Basketball ranks as the second favorite sport in the United States. Although it is far behind American football which continues to dominate as America’s favorite sport, the limited-contact, team sport received 11 percent of the total votes of a 2012 Gallup poll.

Invented in 1891 by Canadian physical educator Dr. James Naismith, basketball is now one of the most popular sports in the world with an estimated 450 million participants worldwide. An average of 20.1 million viewers tuned in to the seven-game series of the 2016 NBA Finals, the most watched since 1998.

Along with the growing interest in basketball, the faction of NBA players who opted to protect their teeth against unwarranted injury is also growing. LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Cole Aldrich, Blake Griffin, Jason Smith, Dwayne Wade, among others were seen sporting a mouth guard as a line of defense against injury.

Former NBA commissioner David Stern said, he has observed the developing trend while he was a league commissioner from 1984 to 2014. According to Stern, it was only sensible for players to protect themselves from “inadvertent elbows.”

Two-time NBA All-Star player Isaiah Thomas sustained multiple front teeth injuries with a complete fractured tooth and two shifted teeth because of a collision during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Recently, Chicago Bulls’ Kris Dunn had a chipped and dislocated two front teeth after losing his grip on the rim and falling teeth first on the hardwood floor.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association in 2007, basketball recorded the highest incidence of dental injuries in all sports. Despite being a limited contact sport, the incidence rate of dental injuries was found at 10.6 percent, five times higher than football.

Basketball is among the 29 sports where the American Dental Association recommended the wearing of mouth guards. Other sports include boxing, volleyball, gymnastics, and rugby.

On the one hand, it is part of the National Federation of State High School Associations to wear mouth guards when playing football, lacrosse, field hockey, and ice hockey, while the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has called for the use of the protective gear for all children and youth playing or participating in organized sports activities.

What is a mouth guard?

A mouth guard is a protective gear which covers the teeth and defends them against possible and unwarranted injury.

Studies show that all athletes are at risk of dental trauma, recording a ten-percent chance of getting an orofacial injury every playing season. During an athlete’s playing career, his or her chance of suffering an orofacial injury is between 33 to 56 percent.

Also, the risk of sustaining a dental trauma increases by seven-fold without a mouth guard which prevent dental injuries like luxation, avulsion, teeth fracture, and jaw injury. The protective gear also acts as a shock absorber, preventing a concussion as a result of a head-related injury.

Mouth guards come in three types including custom-fitted, boil-and-bite, and stock. A custom-fitted mouth guard is the most recommended type as it is customized for the user’s teeth. However, this type of mouth guard is more expensive.

A boil-and-bite mouth guard is made using thermoplastic and molded around the teeth after soaking in hot water. On the one hand, a stock mouth guard is ready to use and pre-formed but not easily adjustable to fit the teeth and mouth.