SPORTS DENTISTRY- A DETAILED EXPLANATION

6 min


INTRODUCTION TO SPORTS DENTISTRY:

Sports dentistry is a special branch of dentistry. Sports-related dental injuries are the third most common injuries in the world (according to ADA). The role of dentists is to assess, manage the orofacial injuries of athletes and prevent this kind of injury during their practice. Wearing face guards or mouth guards prevents this.

However, the most common type of dental injury is the injuries of the orofacial region. Most of the athletes are not aware of the dental injuries occurring during practice. They should be aware of these kinds of sports-related dental injuries in their athletic practice.

FACTORS CAUSING SPORTS INJURIES:

  • Improper training positions
  • Carrying load-bearing weight
  • Higher amount of force delivered.
  • Aggressive violence against someone during practice.

TYPES OF ORO FACIAL INJURIES IN SPORTS DENTISTRY:

There are three  types of orofacial  injuries :

  • SOFT TISSUE INJURY
  • BONE INJURY
  • DENTAL  INJURY

SOFT TISSUE INJURY:

The soft tissue injuries include,

LIP INJURY:  

This is the most common type of orofacial injury. In other words, a lip laceration injury. The term laceration refers to a “cut” in the lips. This occurs due to the penetration of sharp objects in the lips. Topical medications are enough to manage. Placement of sutures in severe cases.

TONGUE INJURY:

This is a cut injury occurring in the tongue. To clarify, a tongue laceration. This occurs due to the penetration of sharp objects. This is a rare type of injury. Rinsing with warm water and topical medications for pain management are a choice.

GINGIVAL INJURY:

Trauma occurring in the gums is one of the serious injuries. Commonly called gingival trauma. Bleeding is more common in this type of injury. If the bleeding is minimal, it can be handled easily. If the bleeding is more, it becomes an emergency situation. Tightly pressing gauze over the injured area controls bleeding. If the bleeding is still more, styptics can be placed then compression tightly with gauze reduces the bleeding. Styptics are drugs that prevent bleeding. Giving cold packs or ice reduces swelling.

 BRUISING OR ECCHYMOSIS AROUND EYES:

Periorbital ecchymosis occurs as a result of bruising around the eyes. Dark patches around the eyes resemble the eyes of a raccoon, hence the name “raccoon eyes”. It occurs due to heavy blow injuries in the eyes. It is a sign of orbital fracture and head injury, should be treated immediately.

HARD TISSUE INJURY:

BONE INJURY:

Fracture of the jaw bone is the most common type of bone injury. Due to the heavy blowout trauma, it results in dislocation of the lower jaw bone called the mandible. Fractures occur in zygomatic bone (present in upper jaw bone area called maxilla), nasal fracture since it is the weakest area fracture is more common in this area, and in mandible.

TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT (TMJ) DISLOCATION:

Firstly, the TMJ is a type of sliding joint, which articulates with the mandible. It is responsible for the downward and forward movement of the mandible.Moreover, temporomandibular joint dislocation is more commonly encountered in sports practice. The hit injury near the chin region, ear region can lead to TMJ dislocation, it also leads to dislocation of the condyle.  The condyle is a part of the mandible(the lower jaw bone). This may even lead to condylar fracture.

DENTAL INJURY IN SPORTS DENTISTRY:

AVULSION:

Due to the severe hit injury more amount of force is delivered which leads to extrusion of a tooth from the tooth socket. To clarify, an avulsion is nothing but popping out of the tooth from its socket. It becomes an emergency situation. Preserve the tooth and report to the dentist immediately.

  • Careful handling of the popped-out tooth is necessary. Hold it upright at the crown portion. Holding in the root part may damage the periodontal ligament cells, which plays an important role in reattachment.
  • Store the tooth in a storage medium such as water, milk, coconut water, saliva, etc. The standard medium includes Viaspan, HBSS solution Hanks balanced salt solution, propolis. Storage period for a maximum of 60 mins. The dentist can re-attach the tooth.
  • If dentists are available in the sports team, handling these kinds of emergency procedures will be done easily.
  • If a dentist is not available, the above steps should be followed carefully.

CONCUSSION:

It is a type of injury, due to the heavy force exerted or due to trauma the periodontal ligaments that hold the tooth in the socket gets injured. Therefore, bleeding can happen internally. 

SUBLUXATION:

In this type of injury, the tooth gets displaced without injury to the periodontal ligaments. Therefore, the tooth becomes mobile and exerts gingival bleeding.

TOOTH FRACTURE:

Due to the heavy force exerted in hit injury, it results in tooth fracture. The common type of tooth fractures is a segmental fracture (parts of the tooth gets fractured or broken), crown fracture, and root fracture.

EMERGENCY HANDLING IN SPORTS DENTISTRY:

In case the injuries turnout to be very serious, the emergency handling can be done by the dentists.

  • Call for a medical emergency if the injury occurs to be very serious.
  • Do not move the victim or remove any helmets or protective gear.
  • Do not give food, drink, or medication until a medical professional has determined the extent of the injury.
  • Apply pressure to bleeding areas with a clean cloth or pad to arrest bleeding.
  • On the other hand, do not apply pressure if there is an injury to the eye or eyelid. Applying any sort of pressure to the eyes leads to serious issues.
  • Apply an ice pack or cold pack to areas that are affected by blow injury, this helps to prevent pain and swelling in the affected areas.

ROLE OF MOUTHGUARDS IN SPORTS DENTISTRY:

Mouthguards are protective equipment that should be regularly worn by every athletic person to prevent injuries during their practice. Mouthguards are pre-fabricated readily available in the markets, they can be customized also. It provides maximum coverage to the teeth and prevents injury. This is usually worn in the maxillary region (upper jaw bone region), the lower part mandible is not covered, for protection, it can be included.

The overall risk of injuries is 1.9 times greater without mouthguards in contrast to with mouthguards.

MECHANISM:

  • It acts as a barrier between teeth and soft tissue prevents direct trauma to the teeth.
  • In addition, it acts as a “shock absorber” provides an equal amount of coverage to the teeth.
  • Protects against neck injury.
  • Provides an adequate amount of occlusal coverage to the teeth.

TYPES OF MOUTHGUARDS IN SPORTS DENTISTRY:

READY MADE  OR STOCK TYPE MOUTH GUARDS:

Pre-fabricated trays are readily available in the markets. It is the least expensive types.

The  disadvantages  are:

  • The size of this tray is limited since it is pre-fabricated cannot be worn by all types of athletic people.
  • The fitting of this tray might be loose, does not adapt to the teeth, will have difficulty in wearing.
  • Meanwhile, the gap created between the teeth reduces the protection of the mouthguard
  • A loosely fitting tray may interfere with breathing.
  • The only reason is the limited size which creates discomfort.

READY MADE “BOIL AND BITE” MOUTHGUARD:

A ready-made mouthguard is made of thermoplastic material. This material can be used by placing it in hot water, softening it then cooling in normal water.

The material can be adapted accurately to the tooth by applying a certain amount of pressure. Care must be taken to maintain the height and width of the mouthguards while fabricating. Care must be taken to achieve adequate lip support.

  • Reshaping is easy to perform. This is a major advantage.
  • It is inexpensive.
  • When not fabricated properly, it may be a loose-fitting tray, which creates discomfort.
  • Sometimes it is difficult to cover the back tooth region while fabricating.

CUSTOM  MADE MOUTHGUARDS FOR SPORTS DENTISTRY:

The dentists or the dental laboratory fabricates them. Material of choice: Thermoplastic.

  • These are very durable when compared with the other two types.
  • The fitting of the mouth guards will be very good when compared with the other types. Since fabrication is in accordance with the exact replica of each person’s oral cavity by the dentists.
  • Adaptation becomes easy.

 TIPS TO TAKE CARE OF MOUTHGUARDS:

Due to continuous use ,lots of bacteria accumulate in the mouth guard.

  • Regularly wash mouthguards with running water.
  • Clean with toothpaste and brush regularly.
  • Use a mouth rinse before and after use of the mouth guard.
  • Avoid washing the mouth guards under hot water, it may lead to distortion of the material.
  • Do not place under direct sunlight.
  • Store them in tight containers after use to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Regularly check the mouthguard for distortion. In case of distortion visit the dentists for replacement.
  • Change it once or twice a year.

FACE GUARDS FOR SPORTS DENTISTRY:

These are protective helmets that protect against injuries. There are various types of faceguards available based on their position. These are commercially available. Select them and use properly to avoid injury.

CONCLUSION:

To sum up, the main aim of this article is to highlight the importance of sports dentistry and to increase its awareness among the people.


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Dr Shalini S.G
I am a dental surgeon. I love travelling and listening to music and a passionate person in research and doing lots of presentation. My area of interest is pathology, diagnosis and forensics.

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