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Current Concepts in Preventive Dentistry

Course Number: 334

Emergency Treatment

Due to the high incidence of sports-related dental injuries, it is vital that primary healthcare providers such as school nurses, athletic trainers, team physicians, and emergency personnel are trained in the assessment and management of dental injuries. Interested dental professionals can assist these providers by offering to speak at schools or community functions, so that the primary health care providers who will deliver immediate treatment at sporting events understand the proper protocol for orofacial injuries, such as displaced teeth, avulsed teeth, lacerations, and crown fractures. The ADA has urged its members to work together with schools, colleges, athletic trainers, and coaches to develop mouthguard programs and guidelines to prevent sports injuries.

The main method for preventing orofacial injuries in sports is to wear mouthguards and headgear, consisting of a helmet and face protector. Parental perceptions of children’s risks to injury, expenses associated with protective gear, and peer pressure may influence use of mouthguards. The observed patterns of mouthguard wearing by males and females can represent cultural differences, peer pressure, and/or nature of sports played, including the following:

  • perceptions that females are less aggressive and thus, a reduced risk of injury may exist,

  • perceptions regarding the absence of long-term commitment to a sport may result in a differential willingness to devote resources to females,

  • aesthetic appeal may influence protective orofacial gear usage, and

  • females may play in non-league-based sports with fewer or less stringent rules or may play less combative sports than males.

The literature indicates the behavior of athletes is most influenced by their coaches. Coaches report that most information about mouthguards comes from sales representatives, educational materials, and dentists.