Dental and orofacial injuries can occur in football and are of particular concern because, unlike lacerations or fractures, they will not “heal”. They often require an artificial or prosthetic replacement (filling, crown, implant or denture) on a permanent basis. Dental injuries can also be expensive. The lifetime cost of an avulsed tooth in a teenage athlete can easily exceed USD 20,000.
There are a number of common statistics regarding dental injuries that cross most sports, including football. These include:
- Approximately twice as many injuries happen in men than in women
- Most dental injuries involve a single tooth
- 80% of all dental injuries occur in the four maxillary incisor teeth
- Slightly more injuries happen to the teeth on the left side
- There is a high incidence of repeat injuries
Dental and orofacial injuries are very common in football. Football is the second leading cause of orofacial and dental injuries in sport, preceded only by basketball. 1-3 Many injury reporting systems (IRS’s) do not reflect these injury rates because of their definition of injury. If the IRS requires the loss of a game or practice to be reported as an injury, then a high percentage of dental injuries will not be reported because the athlete was able to return to play.
Aside from injuries, there are also concerns with the overall oral health of athletes because of issues such as travel, finances, acidic or erosive sports beverages, dehydration and high-carbohydrate foods and snacks.
Dr Paul Piccininni
Sport, Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry