Sports Dentistry

The face is the most vulnerable area of the body and is usually the least protected. Approximately 11-40% of all sports injuries involve the face. These injuries are most often due to direct hits with a ball or player-to-player contacts.
Contact sports have inherent dangers that put young athletes at special risk for severe injuries. Biking topped the list of sports-related injuries, followed by basketball, playground activities, football and a few other sports. Some sports injuries result from accidents; others are due to poor training practices, improper equipment, and lack of conditioning, or insufficient warm up and stretching.

Orofacial injuries that occur during sports activities are largely preventable. Mouth protection for athletes is one of dentistry's contributions to sports medicine.

Shielding devices in sports dentistry

The most important aspect in preventing sports-related orofacial injuries is wearing basic protective devices such as properly-fitting helmets, facemasks and/or mouth guards. Perhaps the single most important piece of oral/facial protective equipment is a properly fitted mouth guard. Mouth guards should be worn when there is a possibility of body-to-body or body-to-equipment contact. Mouthguards help prevent injuries to the teeth, lips, gingiva, tongue, and mucosa. They cushion the blows that could cause jaw fractures, dislocations, and trauma to the temporomandibular joint. Mouth guards also aid in reducing the likelihood of concussion by maintaining a separation between the head of the mandibular condyle and the base of the skull.

The types which are currently available, custom-made mouthguards fitted by a dentist, have been demonstrated to provide the greatest protection from dental injuries. Such mouthguards should therefore be recommended for use by those who participate in contact sports