Poor Oral Health Hinders Athletic Performance

November 8, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. adverse [ad-VURS] (adj.) – causing unfavorable or bad effects
Example:  According to the doctors, having skin rashes is an adverse reaction to the new medicine.

2. spearhead [SPEER-hed] (v.)  – to act as the leader of a project
 Example: The team considers Dr. Smith as the leader because he spearheaded the planning of the research.

3. hypothesis [hahy-POTH-uh-sis] (n.) – an idea or a theory that remains unproven
Example: The findings of the experiment proved that his initial hypothesis was wrong.

4. trauma [TRAW-muh] (n.) – a physical wound caused by a sudden injury
Example:  Her sister went into a coma after suffering head trauma from the car accident.

5. get onto one’s radar [get ON-too wuhns REY-dahr] (idiom) – to become one of the things being considered by a person
Example:  The doctor’s impressive credentials got onto the radar of two big drug companies.


Read the text below.

Poor oral health can adversely affect the performance of athletes, a new study has found.

The research, spearheaded by Ian Needleman of University College London, surveyed the oral health of more than 300 athletes from the London Olympic Games. The study was based on the hypothesis that oral health may also affect athletic performance because it affects the quality of life.

After thorough examinations, Needleman’s team found that more than 50% of the athletes had tooth decay. On top of this, many other oral issues were common, such as gum disease and many cases of trauma that were likely caused by contact sports.

Needleman was especially surprised because most of the athletes were too young to be showing this level of oral damage. He added that while most of the athletes were extremely health-conscious, oral health unfortunately did not seem to have gotten onto their radar. One athlete, for example, confided that he had not been able to properly train for a year because of the pain caused by oral health problems.

According to Needleman, all the evidence his team gathered indicate that poor oral health hinders performance. Furthermore, he believes that the results may represent the state of oral health in the athletes’ home countries.

Needleman added that the issues raised in the research might not be equally distributed among populations because the results indicated that social and economic status affect oral health significantly. He also suggests that further research should be done to identify ways to help athletes maintain a healthy oral condition.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A 

·         Do you agree that it is crucially important for athletes to take care of their oral health? Why or why not?
·         How can people take good care of their teeth and gums? Discuss with your tutor.

Discussion B

·         Do you think athletes are generally healthier than people who are not athletes? Why or why not?
·         In your opinion, should athletes be placed under special healthcare plans from the government? Explain.


November 8, 2013