Imagine that you are an astronaut in training at NASA, and you could be selected from a pool of aspiring space-farers to be on the very first manned flight to mars. Or maybe you have made it to the final cut in the selection process for the privately funded Mars One project, and might be one of four people to establish the very first human colony on the red planet. Pretty exciting, right?
But then you get the bad news. You have not been selected, and all your hopes, dreams, and years of preparation come crashing to the ground. All was for naught.
When you ask why you were cut from the program, they tell you it’s because of your teeth. Your less than adequate oral health and previous dental work disqualified you because your teeth, crowns, fillings, etc. could not withstand the extreme forces that you would be subjected to during space flight. Extreme pressure might cause severe pain if you have a cavity, or extreme vibration and g-forces might cause a filling to come out, or a crown to come loose.
This is no joke. Oral health is a real concern for astronauts for the exact reasons mentioned above. This issue strikes closer to home than we might think, too, considering that seven of the Mars One candidates who survived the first cut live right here in Utah. To them, we offer our congratulations and wish them luck as they strive to make history. Most of us, however, will never travel into space and probably don’t need to worry about g-forces. So why did we imagine otherwise?
Oral health has an impact on our opportunities no matter where we are, whether it be in space or with our feet firmly planted on the beautiful planet we call home. Take Olympic athletes, for example, who, like the astronauts, are striving to go where no man has gone before. Their frontier is not space, but the limits of the human body. The mouth is part of that body, and though it may not be doing all the work, it is integrally connected. An athlete with a toothache may not concentrate as well, and an athlete with an incomplete or yellow smile may not feel as confident as they would without those problems. And if you think I’m making this up, just keep reading.
A study conducted by the University College London, headed by Professor Ian Needleman in 2012 and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, concluded that the oral health of the 2012 Summer Olympic athletes was poor, compared to other groups of similar age (likely due to the high levels of carbohydrates in an athlete’s diet, and the suppression of their immune system caused by training, which can lead to increased tooth and gum decay). Furthermore, 42% of the athletes were “bothered by oral health” issues, 28% percent reported that oral health issues affected their quality of life, and nearly one in five athletes believed that those issues had a negative impact on their athletic performance.
What about the rest of us? A study by the Ostrow School of Dentistry at USC concluded that kids with poor oral health can be at a severe disadvantage at school. If you add that to the myriad of other studies on this topic, it becomes hard to miss the impact our oral health can have on our lives and our opportunities, no matter who we are.
Here at the Center of Dental Professionals and A Kids Place Dentistry, we want our patients to succeed at life. We appreciate you and cherish your loyalty to us. We want to help you maintain good oral health so that you can do everything that life has to offer, whether it be flying to mars, winning a medal, performing well at school, or any other goal you set your mind to, big or small. Call us and come in for an appointment, and we’ll take care of you no matter what your dental needs are. That’s our promise to you, so that you can explore new frontiers in your own life with confidence. You can reach us at 801-747-8015.