Dentistry is the treatment and prevention of oral/facial athletic injuries
and related oral diseases and manifestations.
1990 report of the "Better Health Program" entitled, "Sports
injuries in Australia, Causes, Costs and Prevention" estimated that
sports injuries cost Australia (population 18 Million) about $1.4 billion
per year and that between 30-50% of these injuries are preventable. Multiply
these numbers for the United States (population 260 million). Participation
in exercise and sport whether positive or negative, will always remain
a major consideration in the health of a national population.
sports, the challenge is to maximize the benefits of participation and
to limit injuries. Sports dentistry has a major role to play in this area.
Prevention and adequate preparation are the key elements in minimizing
injuries that occur in sport. For sports dentistry the prevention of oral/
facial trauma during sporting activities can be helped by many facets.
Included are teaching proper skills such as tackling technique, purchase
and maintenance of appropriate equipment, safe playing areas and certainly
the wearing and utilization of properly fitted protective equipment.
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.
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. (See "What to do when a tooth is knocked out"
of oral/facial injuries, simple or complex, is to include not only treatment
of injuries at the dental office, but also treatment at the site of injury,
such as a basketball court or football or rugby field, where the dentist
may not have the convenience of all the diagnostic tools available at
their office. Knowledge and ability to do "on site" differential
diagnosis is essential, without the use of radiographs and dental operatories,
to determine the future treatment and prognosis of the injury.
screenings and examinations are essential in preventing injuries. Examinations
are to include health histories, at risk dentitions, diagnosis of caries,
maxilla/mandibular relationships, orthodontics, loose teeth, dental habits,
crown and bridge work, missing teeth, artificial teeth, and the possible
need for extractions for orthodontic concerns or wisdom teeth. These extractions
should be done months prior to playing competitive sports as to not interfere
with their competition or weaken their jaws during competition. Determination
of the need for a specific type and design of mouthguard is made at this
design and fabrication is extremely important. There are four types of
mouthguards according to the dental literature. Stock, Boil and Bite,
Vacuum Custom made, and Pressure Laminated Custom made. (See Mouthguard
of all, it is essential to educate the public that stock and boil and
bite mouthguards bought at sporting good stores do not provide the optimum
treatment expected by the athlete. These ill fitting mouthguards cannot
deal with idiosyncrasies athletes and children may have. If everyone had
the same dentition; were of the same gender; played the same sport under
the same conditions; had the same experience and played the same position
at the same level of competition, and were the same age and same size
mouth, with the same number and shape of teeth, prescribing a standard
mouthguard would be simple. This is the precise reason why mouthguards
bought at sporting good stores, without the recommendation of a qualified
dentist, should not be worn.
are to be noted during mouthguard design and fabrication. These may include
jaw relationships where mouthguards may have to be designed on the mandibular
arch such as a Class III prognathic bite. Otherwise, where possible, mouthguards
should be built on the maxillary (upper) arch.
teeth (ages 6-12) should be noted so the mouthguard can be designed to
allow for eruption during the season. Boil and bite mouthguards do not
allow for this eruption space.
patients with braces, special designs for the mouthguards are essential
to allow for orthodontic movement without compromising on injury prevention
and fit. This can only be achieved through consultations with your dentist.(See
mouthguard section for further information on types and designs for mouthguards.)
Dentistry also includes the need for recognition and referral guidelines
to the proper medical personnel for non dental related injuries which
may occur during a dental/facial injury. These injuries may include cerebral
concussion, head and neck injuries, and drug use. We are NOT suggesting
that dentists treat these injuries, but as health professionals dentists
should be able to recognize these entities and refer these patients to
the proper medical personnel. For example, if a patient comes into the
office for a broken or knocked out tooth, dentists must rule out the possibility
of a head injury or concussion before treating the patient for the dental
injury. If certain symptoms are present, such as persistent head aches
or nausea, immediate referral to medical personnel is essential. (See
tobacco should also be included and addressed under Sports Dentistry.
Smokeless tobacco is often associated with certain sports, and the public
should be educated on the dangerous properties and consequences of using
smokeless tobacco. (See Smokeless tobacco section.)
not uncommon for dentists to recognize the symptoms of anorexia and bulimia
through dental examination. Eating disorders are not as infrequent as
one may think in female athletics. Woman's gymnastics, volleyball, and
basketball are just a few sports where eating disorders have been documented
in the medical/dental literature. Erosion patterns in the teeth, caused
by gastric acids, often help dentists in the differential diagnosis of
eating disorders. These patients need to be referred to the proper medical
and psychological health professional.
you can see sports dentistry deals with much more than just mouthguards.
Visit the other sites on Sports Dentistry On Line for other specific information
on these topics.