Sports Dentistry, the treatment and prevention of oral, facial athletic injuries and related oral diseases, is a growing and highly discussed segment of dentistry today. With the rise of participation in athletics and youth sporting events, physicians and dentists are looking at what their role should be in helping to protect their patients during these activities.
Consider these facts: The National Sports Foundation estimates that over 5 million teeth are lost annually in sporting activities in the United States. A blow to the jaw or chin can cause dental injuries as well as concussive, sub-concussive, or head and neck injuries. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the lifetime cost of a missing tooth can reach $10,000 to $15,000. The cost of a concussion cannot be measured in dollars.
Mouthguards are essential equipment for athletes of all ages who participate in sporting events and activities. The use of a mouthguard can protect the teeth, lips, cheeks, and tongue from injuries sustained during sports activities. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, a mouthguard can also prevent more serious injuries such as concussions, cerebral hemorrhages, and incidents of unconsciousness, jaw fractures, and neck injuries by helping to avoid situations where the lower jaw gets jammed into the upper jaw.
The ADA estimates that mouthguards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries per year in American high school and collegiate football alone. The ADA also states that athletes who do not wear mouth protection face a seven times greater chance of suffering an orofacial injury than those athletes who use mouthguards.
The serious oral and facial injuries that can be sustained during sports activities demand that proper attention be placed on protection.
The majority of dental professionals and dental associations agree that mouthguards are essential and that over-the-counter mouthguards do not provide adequate protection.
According to the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety, the stock mouthguards purchased from a sporting goods store, without professional fitting, provide a low level of protection, if any. And, if the wearer loses consciousness, there is a risk that the mouthguard may lodge in the throat, possibly obstructing the airway.
Inexpensive mouthguards that are not professionally fitted do not provide adequate protection, and can even make breathing difficult. In addition, they are made of materials that can potentially be bitten through by an athlete upon injury or impact. Standard mouthguards purchased from a sporting good or drug store are typically placed in boiling water, then molded by the wearer in an effort to make them fit.
Custom-fitted mouthguards that are recommended, individually prescribed and dispensed by dentists, provide the best fit and protection for athletes of all ages.
Manufactured from a high-grade vinyl for resiliency and shock-absorption, professional mouthguards are odorless and hypoallergenic. When carefully fitted, a mouthguard creates a custom cushion protecting the teeth and mouth and absorbing the shock from direct impact to the jaw, chin, and face, thus reducing the risk of concussion.
Dentists and the coaches of youth sports teams strongly support the use of custom-fitted mouth guards for protection while participating in a variety of sports. They are joined by the ADA, recommending the use of custom mouthguards for sports and activities including:
• Field hockey
• Ice hockey
• Martial arts
• Water polo
• Water skiing
• Weight lifting
All the millions of knocked-out teeth are not lost! Not if you have Save-A-Tooth the emergency tooth-preserving system on hand. Many dentists and coaches have these on hand for preserving and saving a knocked-out tooth. Using this system, up to 90 percent of knocked-out teeth can be successfully reimplanted and thrive.
The Save-A-Tooth system contains a small basket that suspends the tooth in a pH balanced solution that is compatible with the tooth tissue. Once in the solution, the delicate tissues of the tooth are protected from cell damage and dehydration during transportation to your dentist’s office. Teeth can be preserved for up to 24 hours or more. However, the sooner the tooth can be reimplanted, the better the chance for success.
Maintaining clean, healthy teeth and gums is key to preventing oral health problems. It is important to consistently follow a program of oral health. It’s up to you to:
• Use a toothbrush with soft, rounded bristles
• Change your toothbrush every three to four months
• Replace your toothbrush after an illness
• Brush at least twice a day
• Use a toothpaste with fluoride
• Floss once every day
• Visit your dentist regularly
• Have a periodontal check-up
• Have oral cancer screenings
• Avoid tobacco products
• Avoid excessive alcohol use
We’re On Your Team! Ask us about sports dentistry! We can help you protect your smile from injury during athletic and other activities. Let us show you a way to save a tooth should you have one knocked out in an emergency. If you, your child, or family member participate in team sports, let us talk to your coaches. With your help, we can make athletics safer for you… and the rest of the team!
We’re on your team! Today more than ever before, your physician and your dentist are working together as an integrated health care team.