Effective dental injury management in athletes

It is common knowledge that all sports carry a certain risk of injury and, depending on the physical activity being done, these injuries can affect different areas of the body. While many athletes express their concern for limb and spine injuries as a result of collisions and falls, some non-obvious problems are equally dangerous. For example, dental injury is a severe threat, not only for boxers, but also for those who do other sports, such as football, hockey, tennis,  baseball or even running. What makes their situation more complicated is that their injuries come as a result of brute force and need to be treated in a short time frame, without affecting their sport performance. More often than not, athletes are referred to a downtown dental center in Toronto that specialises in the treatment of sports-related dental injuries.


Which are the most common dental injuries in sports?


Tooth fractures and extrusions are by far the most common type of dental injury and they are usually found in sports that involve the use of balls, bats (baseball, tennis, and soccer) or direct blows to the face (boxing). In some cases, the impact can even lead to temporomandibular joint dislocation. Concussions are on the second place and the third goes to injuries of the soft tissue (gums). Unless followed by complications, dental injuries are rarely life-threatening. However, they can be incredibly painful, preventing the athletes from training. Needless to say, they are aesthetically displeasing.


How to prevent dental injuries


The use of protective gear such as custom fit mouth guards remains the predominant form of protection from dental injuries. However, it should be pointed out that mouth guards only decrease the risk of fractures. The risk of soft tissue injuries and concussions is still high and many athletes who wear this protective gear are referred to dentists. In fact, a 2000 study conducted on basketball players in the US showed that nearly 71,000 subjects were exposed to injuries and 8660 of them were wearing mouth guards. Therefore, the efficiency of this method is limited: they can reduce the severity of the injury, but not eliminate the risk completely. In many cases, athletes still need treatment.


The need for specialised dental care for athletes


Since dental injuries are often inevitable, athletes need a good dentist as they do a good kineto-therapist or coach. However, it should be pointed out that not all dentists are qualified to treat sports related dental injuries. If the injury is particularly serious and the emporomandibular joint has been affected, the athlete should be referred to a specialist who has the equipment for such cases.