Boxing and Oral Health — Perhaps not Mutually Exclusive?

June 13, 2005 — Ottawa — Your dentist will certainly never recommend it, but according to a study published in the latest edition of the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association (JCDA), participation in sports — even contact sports including boxing and wrestling — may have protective health effects.

The article, entitled "Tobacco Use among Young North American Aboriginal Athletes", found that youths at high-risk for smoking, are less likely to use tobacco when they are involved in organized sports.

Among Aboriginal youth, average reported smoking rates vary from 30-77%, (higher than the non-Aboriginal Canadian youth average of 21.7%), putting them at increased risk for negative health effects — including oral diseases. Through a mouthguard clinic established at the July 2002 North American Indigenous Games, a group of dental researchers was able to learn that participation in sports impacts other health choices.

"We found that athletes presenting at the clinic were much less likely to use tobacco products than their peers — and even averaged below the rates of non-aboriginal youths who are less at risk," stated Dr. Douglas J. Brothwell, a co-author of the study, adding "These findings suggest that participation in organized sports may be an important protective factor against tobacco use."

Of 156 Aboriginal athletes participating in the study, only 22 (14.1%) reported current smoking. And of the few who did smoke, consumption levels were low and most were interested in quitting.

"In addition to making the choice not to smoke - these kids also demonstrated a good awareness of the health risks of tobacco, and chose to protect their teeth by using a mouthguard," said Brothwell. "Communities would be well advised to explore the role model potential of youth athletes."

The full text of the above mentioned article is available from the eJCDA Web site:

Tobacco Use among Young North American Aboriginal Athletes ]

The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) is the national voice for dentistry, dedicated to the advancement and leadership of a unified profession and to the promotion of optimal oral health, an essential component of general health.