Professional footballers train in dental practice

Kriens, 12.06.2014 – For once, the soccer professionals at Zurich FC did not practise dribbling and one-two passes. A trip to the dentist was scheduled. No drilling. But training did take place, under the supervision of Dr. med. dent. Kufus and rightly so, since poor oral hygiene can adversely affect performance on the pitch.

Professional footballers train in dental practice

The Zurich FC physiotherapist Zivorad Filic knows that gum inflammation affects performance and sent his players for a special sort of training: to clean their teeth and interdental spaces using Curaprox toothbrushes and interdental brushes.

Mr Filic, you’re a physiotherapist for the first team. We always thought that professional footballers needed strong legs. What gave you the idea of getting your players keen on oral hygiene?
We take a broader approach in the medical world. Together with the club’s doctor, we take various precautions for the sake of our players’ health, and oral health should not be underestimated: the cause of neck tension can be found in tense chewing muscles.

Tension is one thing. What’s the story with clean teeth?
Healthy teeth and gums are important since infections are easily caused by injuries in the mouth area. We want to avoid anything that might affect the players’ performance and this also includes chronic infections.

What does oral hygiene have to do with chronic infections?
Gums can easily become inflamed if teeth are not carefully brushed. Gum inflammation often goes unnoticed, but it still affects performance.

What did the players learn during the training session?
With the help of professional instruction, the footballers practised careful brushing tooth by tooth with a manual toothbrush. The interdental spaces demanded even greater sensitivity: using a small probe, they measured each other’s interdental spaces and practised cleaning them with the appropriate interdental brush – which caused a lot of laughs. The pictures of diseased teeth they were shown were less amusing – these made them aware of the risks posed by a lack of oral hygiene. In addition, each player was given a check-up by the dentist, Dr. Kufus.

Generally speaking, is health awareness of major importance to the team?
Each of the footballers here is a successful professional. The tool for the dream job of professional footballer is their own body, so they all want to look after and take care of their bodies. The players know that they perform better when they’re fit. To live their dream of being professional footballers, they ensure that they take good care of their teeth. They are also aware that they are role models for children and teenagers.

How did the players react when you told them about the prophylaxis training?
Our lads are used to having appointments in their free time, such as with the press or sponsors. However, I am particularly proud of the fact that they all kept this appointment.

Was your campaign successful?
Yes, some players subsequently made appointments with the dental hygienist. However, I am also aware that you cannot change people’s habits in just one week. We’ve decided to tackle oral hygiene but it’s a long-term process.

What’s the situation with sweets? Do they figure at all in a professional footballer’s diet?
Gummi bears are popular, as are jelly snakes. I have to say, however, that the present team is very sensible. The training has increased the team’s awareness of dental health. I recently noticed a player drinking Red Bull during a training session. Someone asked him, “Hey, didn’t you see the pictures at Dr. Kufus’ practice?”

Many thanks, Mr Filic, for this chat – all the best for your training camp.

Zivorad Filic is a trained biomedical analyst and a qualified physiotherapist; he has been working as the Zurich FC’s physiotherapist for eleven years. Together with the 1st team, he attended a prophylaxis seminar in the dental practice of Rolf Kufus Zahnärzte AG in Zurich in March 2014.

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