Sports dentistry is the treatment and prevention of oral/ facial athletic injuries and related oral disease manifestations. It involves prevention of injury to the hard and soft tissues of the mouth, through the use of properly fitted mouth guards. Contrary to what most people think, sport dentistry is for everyone and not just athletes or those on college teams. This type of dentistry also addresses the prevention of oral cancer by encouraging the cessation of tobacco and smokeless tobacco use.
Traditionally, the emphasis on injury prevention has involved educating parents and young athletes as well as professionals about the benefits of mouth guards, face masks and other preventive equipment for the head, face and the mouth. Mouth guards offer wearers more than basic tooth protection. They create a cushion that provides potential stabilization of the temporomandibular joint while also helping to prevent injury to the joint. In addition, they can substantially reduce the type of injury affecting the soft tissues- such as the lips and gum tissue surrounding the teeth. In general, mouth guards can help provide protection against numerous serious injuries, including those to the face and head. Mouth guards should be bought at good sporting shops with the recommendation of a qualified dentist. The following are types of mouth guards in sports dentistry:
- Boil and bite mouth guards. They are placed in boiling water and then molded to the contours of the teeth. If necessary, boil and bite mouth guards can be reheated and re- adjusted to an ideal position.
- Custom- fitted mouth guards are fabricated from a cast to accuracy to fit the teeth. They are typically made using acrylic and contain hard outer layers and soft inner layers for comfort.
Sports dentistry focuses heavily on prevention and a big part of that is done through pre-screen and regular checkups. Due to the high risk for impact injuries common in sports, it is important that athletes’ teeth are in good health condition.
Sports 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 or a facial injury. These injuries may include cerebral concussion, head and neck injuries and drug use.
Athletes need to take good care of their teeth. They need proper fitting mouth guards and not the one size fit all kind that leads to so many sports related injuries.