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 National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, a non-profit educational research organization working to promote the safety of youth in sports, has published a fact sheet on dental injuries that includes statistics, costs of injuries, resource information regarding standards for mouthguards, videos, and mouthpieces and dental care.9 A field emergency kit is a simple and inexpensive item for the dentist attending a sporting event (see Emergency kit list12).

Dental Emergency Kit for Sporting Events
Mouth mirrorMixing pad
Penlight2x2 & 4x4 sterile guaze
Tongue depressorSterile small wire cutters (for removal of broken orthodontic wires)
ScissorsSpare commercial mouthguard
Rope waxEmergency tooth-preserving solution (i.e., Save-a-Tooth™ for the avulsed tooth has been known to maintain vitality for 24 hours.)
Zinc oxide eugenol (i.e., IRM)

“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 determined. Mouthguard laws would help to reduce the number of orofacial sporting injuries and protect athletes. The sports dentistry field is a challenging, yet rewarding one. With efforts from dentists and dental auxiliaries in the country, a better awareness of the types of injuries, treatment procedures, and mouthguard prevention can be conveyed to parents and athletes.

The role as dental professionals should include:

  • Good impression techniques and knowledge of mouthguard materials/manipulations in mouthguard creation.
  • Communication with children and parents/guardians. 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 guard, the dental assistant should 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 should encompass much more than mouthguard fabrication and the treatment of fractured teeth. As dental professionals, a responsibility exists to become and remain educated and pass that education on to the 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.