Sports dentistry is concerned with the procedures, treatments, medications and prevention techniques regarding athletes and sportsmen. These dentists treat patients who have sustained injuries, or have acquired infections in the oro-facial region, during athletic endeavors.
The Need for Sports Dentistry
There is a misconception related to sports dentistry. Many people believe that it exists in order to simply help athletes and sportsmen achieve a winning smile for the front pages of magazines and newspapers. In reality, sports dentistry plays a much larger role than providing these players a pretty set of pearly white teeth.
Sports dentistry was established as a result of the number of injuries and accidents sustained during sporting events across the globe. Sports such as hockey and rugby have countless cases of injuries to the facial region. Some of the most popular sports that require injury prevention due to high percentage of facial injury include football, martial arts, and wrestling. The athletes associated with these sports constitute the majority of cases that are brought to sports dentists annually. It has been shown that oral protection is also advantageous in sports like cycling, track and field, and gymnastics. The main purpose of sports dentists is to limit injuries, while keeping athletes actively participating on the field.
Sports dentistry practitioners also play another important role in identifying and curtailing the dangerous behaviors of athletes. These behaviors can include eating disorders associated with wrestlers ‘cutting-weight’, extending to tobacco abuse by baseball players. Many times athletes engage in activities that are counterproductive, which can be easily identified and brought to light by a trained sports dentist.
The Academy of Sports Dentistry
Founded in the year 1983, the Academy for Sports Dentistry, which is located in Texas, is the very first of its kind. It is comprised of a specialized team of professionals including dentists, technicians, physicians as well as athletic trainers. The Academy was established with the purpose of serving athletes who are at high-risk of facial injuries due to the nature of their sport. The Academy for Sports Dentistry has the specific goal of preventing and treating these sports related injuries.
Currently there are around 600 members of the Academy worldwide, including dentistry related professionals along with sports coaches, students and educators. Members discuss new developments and implementations in the world of dentistry, while striving to prevent and protect athletes from facial injuries.
It has been observed that majority of sports require the players to wear mouth guards, and yet these players still sustain injuries to the facial region. The aim of the academy is to maximize participation by minimizing the chances of injury during the sporting events.
Aspects of Sports Dentistry
The most important aspect of sports dentistry is the constant and relentless research being carried out by members globally in order to derive ways to minimize injuries during sports. According to the Academy of Sports Dentistry, the prevention of facial and head injuries during sports helps to enable maximum participation.
Another important aspect is spreading awareness and educating people associated with sports. This aspect is critical to ensure that athletes, coaches and students have ample knowledge of injury prevention techniques, safety methods and the correct usage of items that can help prevent oro- facial injuries.
One of the most common misconceptions relates to the use of mouth guards and how they can prevent all kinds of oral injuries. It is true that superior quality mouth guards can prevent injuries to a significant degree, but the mouth guards being sold and distributed by most retailers cannot prevent even the most minor injuries from occurring. Thus, this aspect of sports dentistry deals with creating awareness of the selection of the correct products and items which are ideal for each individual sport.
Treatment and medication
Apart from prevention techniques, the main purpose of establishing sports dentistry as a separate entity was to ensure the proper treatment for players and athletes who sustained injuries to the head and facial region. All treatment and medication is given with the purpose of efficiently restoring the physical fitness of the athlete in order for him to participate again.