Smile, You're An Olympic Medal Winner!

Delta Dental of Arizona examines the importance of oral health in Olympians  

GLENDALE, Ariz. (Feb. 15, 2018) - As the 2018 Winter Olympics reach their halfway point and many American competitors take the podium to receive their medals, Delta Dental of Arizona looked at how Team USA and others make sure their pearly whites are in tip-top shape for the whole world to see! They have trained their whole lives for this moment, but what may be just as important is how well they have maintained their oral health!

The ties to overall health and oral health are becoming more prevalent, even in healthy, young athletes. The British Journal of Sports Medicine conducted a study at the 2012 London Summer games in which 302 athletes from around the world representing 25 sports were analyzed on their oral health.

The results were surprising:

  • 55 percent had dental caries (cavities)
  • 45 percent showed dental erosion
  • 76 percent had gingivitis

In addition, 40 percent of the athletes admitted they were bothered by their oral health and 18 percent even said it affected their training and performance. 

One trend that is certainly taking the mainstage in a positive way is how many athletes are utilizing mouthguards in sports across the board. Not just in hockey, but skiing, speed skating, skeleton and snowboarding. In a recent Teen Vogue article before the Olympics, Team USA woman’s snowboarder Maddie Mastro was asked what is the one thing you always have to have when you’re competing. Her answer? Her mouthguard! She even said she would “have a total breakdown if I didn’t have my mouth guard.”

“We know the last thing on people’s minds as they watch the Olympics is the oral health of the individuals competing for Gold, but it’s pretty telling to discover that even elite athletes—who often have the means and resources to visit the dentist—are prone to oral health issues,” said Tiffany DiGiacinto, director of marketing and communications at Delta Dental of Arizona. “In the case of mouthguards, we hope parents will take notice and point out to children when their favorite athlete is sporting one. Mouthguards minimize damage to your tongue and teeth, and absorb impact to your jaw, which is incredibly important if an Olympian has a bad crash on the slopes or on the half-pipe. If kids know their favorite Olympian cares about keeping their smile safe, maybe they’ll also think twice about wearing that mouthguard in whatever sport they play.”

Host countries are ever prepared for dental issues as their medical services include a dental staff. In PyeongChang, the Kyunghee University Dental Hospital has been tapped as the sole provider of dental services.

So as you continue to watch the Olympics and see these athletes shine those golden smiles on the podium, maybe you’ll think twice about brushing those teeth before you go to bed.


About Delta Dental of Arizona
Delta Dental of Arizona is the leading dental benefits provider in Arizona, serving more than 1 million enrollees and more than 3,400 contracted dentists across the state. Passionate about oral health and its importance to generations of families, Delta Dental of Arizona has worked for more than 45 years to improve oral health by emphasizing preventive care and making dental coverage accessible to a wide variety of employers, groups and individuals. For more information about Delta Dental of Arizona, visit