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Sports-Related Dental Injuries and Sports Dentistry

Course Number: 127

Dental Team's Role

Dentists and their staff need to educate patients on the need and benefits of protective devices. The American Dental Association ( publishes brochures, which explain the different types of mouthguards and their advantages. The ASD has resources available on their website Emergency Treatment of Athletic Dental Injuries cards in English and other languages that provide detailed lay instructions regarding avulsion, luxation, and tooth fractures. Field emergency kits are a simple and inexpensive item for dentists attending a sporting event. See some recommended items from an emergency kit.12 More items can be found on the American Academy for Sports Dentistry (AASD) website.

Dental Emergency Kit for Sporting Events
PPE: gloves, masks, safety glasses, disposable gownConsumables: paper towels (both dry and wet), sealable baggies, tongue depressors
Zinc oxide eugenol (i.e., IRM)Mixing pad and spatula
Flashlight or penlight2x2 and 4x4 sterile gauze
Tongue depressorSterile instruments: mouth mirror, explorer, small wire cutters (for removal of broken orthodontic wires), hemostats, crown and bridge scissors
Soft wax (rope or utility wax)Spare commercial mouthguard
Soft wax (rope or utility wax)If the avulsed tooth cannot be reimplanted. Emergency tooth-preserving solution i.e., Save-a-Tooth™ or Hanks Balanced Saline Solution™ for the avulsed tooth
Canned airBiohazard bag
Informed consent form

Another activity for dentists and their staff is making mouthguards for sport teams. “Fitting mouthguards is a perfect activity for a dental society,” says Robert Morrow, D.D.S., Professor of Prosthodontics, University of Texas-San Antonio Dental School. “You simply get a group of dentists together at the school and begin making impressions. It spreads out the costs and cuts down on the time. And it’s worthwhile.”2 “It’s a great practice builder,” says Robert Donnelly, D.D.S., a general practitioner in San Marcos, Texas, and dentist for the Southwest Texas State University football team. “I don’t charge for my time or the materials to make a mouthguard. I do it for free. As a result, we get a lot of referrals.”22

Due to the increasing participation in sporting events by children of all ages, a need for mouthguard implementation is of extreme importance. Dental professionals need to develop effective ways of conducting research to determine the prevalence of sports-related injuries in their communities. By combining research with preventive efforts, legislation can be changed in your area. Mouthguard requirements would help to reduce the number of orofacial sporting injuries and protect athletes. Dentists and allied dental professionals can provide education to athletes and their families on the types of injuries, treatment procedures, and mouthguard prevention.

The role as dental professionals should include:

  • Good impression techniques and knowledge of mouthguard materials/manipulations in mouthguard creation.

  • Communication with children and their families. Dental charting should include questions about involvement in sports and the use of mouthguards. If patients are unwilling or unable to pay for an office-made mouthguard, the dental providers could educate patients about affordable boil and bite-type guards for minimal protection.

  • Basic instructions on emergency treatments of dental emergencies such as avulsions, fractures, extrusions and intrusions that an adult can perform immediately until dental treatment can be attained.33

Sports dentistry can encompass much more than mouthguard fabrication and the treatment of fractured teeth. As dental professionals, we need to educate our community regarding the issues related to sports dentistry and specifically to the prevention of sports-related oral and maxillofacial trauma. Dental and facial injuries can be reduced significantly by requiring protective equipment such as mouthguards and face shields.