Maintaining a proper oral health is essential to prevent or minimize the risk of muscle injury in elite athletes. This is the main conclusion of the study leaded by Dr. Cosme Gay Escoda, researcher at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the medical team of FC Barcelona. For three seasons, from 2003 to 2006, the dental medical team studied dental trauma injuries, oral hygiene through the presence of bacterial plaque, gum disease and dental occlusion in 30 first team players of the FCB. Then, they contrasted these data with information from the injuries of the players provided by the club’s medical team. The statistical correlation showed that the chronic oral infections are one of the risk factors that may affect a greater number of muscle injuries. That is, the professional players with worse oral health parameters show a greater likelihood of injury. These infections can be caused by various reasons such as cavities, gum infections (gingivitis) or plaque.
For the first time, it was scientifically proved the importance of oral health as a preventive measure to reduce the intrinsic risk of muscle injury, i.e. not caused by direct impact or shock. Infections in the mouth secrete chemical mediators that can affect, through the bloodstream, the muscle and weaken it, increasing the risk of injury.
This work, published in 2011, has been the scientific article about sports most consulted in the rank established by the BioMedLib Journal. In the study, have participated Dr. Gay Escoda, maxillofacial surgeon of the Teknon Medical Center and professor at the University of Barcelona, Dr. Jordi Ardèvol, medical director of the Barça in that period, and Dr. Ricard Pruna and Javier Fernandez , doctor and physiotherapist respectively of the first team.
Injuries in professional football players
It is estimated that professional football players are injured between 1.5 and 7 times every 1,000 hours of training and between 12 to 35 times every 1,000 hours of match. Muscle injuries are common in sports along with tendinitis, fractures, torn ligaments or lacerations, among others. For this reason, tt is therefore essential to define preventive measures to minimize muscle injury, “among which includes regular monitoring of oral health of the players, thus ensuring the maintenance of excellent physical condition of elite athletes”, concludes Dr. Gay Escoda.