Sports Dentistry is the treatment and prevention of oral/facial athletic injuries and related oral diseases and manifestations. Our greatest goal in sports dentistry is prevention of injury through properly fitted mouth guards. However, accidents do happen. As the team dentist for the Portland Winterhawks and former dentist for various high school and youth sports, treatment of oral/facial injuries, simple and complex, both at the dental office and at the site of the injury, such as a hockey rink, is an incredible challenge. On-Site diagnosis and treatment of such injuries without the aides of radiographs and other diagnostic aids is one of our specialties.
Preseason examinations are essential in preventing injuries. These examinations need to include health histories, diagnosis of cavities, the relationship of the patient’s jaw to maxilla, loose teeth, crowns and bridge work, missing teeth, dental habits, need for extractions, oral cancer screening and histories for trauma. This information allows us to fabricate the correct type of mouth guard and ensure the athlete has a season free of dental pain.
Mouth guard design and fabrication is extremely important. There are four types of mouth guards according to dental literature. Stock, Boil and Bite, Vacuum Custom made, and Pressure Laminated Custom made. Stock and Boil and Bite mouth guards that you can buy online and at sporting good stores DO NOT provide the protection needed for most athletes. The bulkiness of Stock & boil and Bite mouth guards make it difficult to talk as well as breath. These ill-fitting mouth guards simply can’t accommodate the differences between athletes. If everyone had the same teeth, were of the same gender, placed the same sport in the same conditions, had the same number and shape of teeth, were the same size and age etc., it would be easy to prescribe a standard mouth guard. For these differences, it is extremely important that a custom mouth guard from a qualified dentist be fabricated.