BMC’s Philippe Gilbert is not performing quite as one might have anticipated given his stellar 2011. The reason: problems with his teeth. More specifically an infected jaw which systemically affects the functioning of one’s entire body and immune system.
Not unnaturally, PhilGil’s teething troubles have prompted a fair bit of discussion over the airwaves. I can’t pretend to have all the answers but I have set out below why riders – professionals and amateurs – have these issues and what they could sensibly do to prevent them. And no, I’m not a dentist but neither do I fall into the category of knowing just enough to be dangerous!
Many professional cyclists suffer from considerable acid erosion of the tooth enamel on account of the sugary drinks and snacks they constantly consume while in the saddle. This makes them more vulnerable to caries (tooth decay). Typically, if left untreated, the caries invades the tooth, killing the pulp leading to abscesses and poisoning of the blood, as in the case of Mark Cavendish a couple of years ago and now Gilbert. This can result in tooth loss, as in the case of Tom Boonen, who at one time I feared might become Toothless Tom on account of his numerous extractions. Continue reading