Pirouettes and Pearly Whites

November 28, 2001

At fifteen minutes to places, most dancers are mentally running through a pre-performance to-do list. Warm up, check. Makeup, check. Costume, check. Brush teeth… wait, what?


Dental care doesn’t usually come to mind as a prerequisite for a standing ovation, but a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine says that oral hygiene could be a significant factor in your performance success. If you’re dealing with teeth or gum pain, it can keep you from doing your best onstage. For the study, dental experts performed oral health check-ups on over 300 Olympic athletes. The results? Over half of the athletes had tooth decay, and over 75 percent had gingivitis. What’s more, 42 percent of the athletes said they felt negatively affected by their oral health problems—most likely from pain and inflammation.


The researchers believe that poor oral health among these athletes could be partially due to frequent carbohydrate intake before exercise, which can be detrimental to teeth if not cleaned properly after. But what’s it got to do with your performance abilities? Pain from oral diseases and infections can easily distract from focus and decrease self-confidence. Better brush those teeth before you brush up on your variation!