Sports Dentistry - The Treatment of Athletic Injuries

Sports Dentistry is the treatment and prevention of oral/facial athletic injuries and related oral diseases and manifestations.

In some sports, injury prevention, through properly fitted mouthguards are considered essential. These are the contact sports of football, boxing, martial arts and hockey. Other sports, traditionally classified as non contact sports, basketball, baseball, bicycle riding, roller blading, soccer, wrestling, racquetball, surfing and skateboarding also require properly fitted mouthguards, as dental injuries unfortunately, are a negative aspect of participation in these sports.
The National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries, reports several interesting statistics. Dental injuries are the most common type of oral facial injuries sustained during participation in sports. Victims of tooth avulsions who do not have the teeth properly preserved or replanted will face lifetime dental costs estimated from $10-15,000 per tooth, the inconvenience of hours spent in the dental chair and possibly other dental problems (like root canal treatment). (See "What to do when a tooth is knocked out" Section)
How are dental injuries treated during a game, considering most arenas are generally not capable of housing the dental equipment necessary to perform a restoration, not to mention the player with the injury is determined to get back on the ice? According to Dr. Blair, the first priority is always, "Immediate relief of pain; hockey players are paid to play hockey. It is our job to get them back on the ice as soon and as quickly as possible. The treatment that takes place at the game might be only a temporary fix to get them back in the game and then more involved, more detailed treatment will take place here in the [dental] office after the game or the next day."
Perhaps the new breed of young hockey stars entering the NHL are setting the example for mouthguard wear. According to the Academy for Sports Dentistry, "On a national level all states generally mandate mouthguard use in high school football, ice hockey, men's lacrosse, field hockey, and amateur boxing. Different states have mandated mouthguard use for other sports." Entering the professional realm of sporting does not necessarily mean that players forgo wearing a mouthguard because of their new found fame. The 2008 training camp for the Calgary Flames proves that mouthguard wear is on the rise, according to Dr. Blair, "The numbers are higher every year. This year I think we made 55 mouthguards -- that covers all the different players that came in at different levels." The tough guy mentality has been, and always will be, part of a players strategy, but when it comes to mouthguard wear, "The person that does not wear a mouthguard is getting to be in the minority."

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