Sports dentistry involves the prevention and treatment of orofacial athletic injuries and related oral diseases, as well as the collection and dissemination of information on dental athletic injuries and the encouragement of research in the prevention of such injuries. In sports, the challenge is to maximize the benefits of participation and minimize the injuries. Sports dentistry plays a major role in this area. Prevention and adequate preparation are the key elements in minimizing injuries that occur in sports.
Preseason screenings and examinations are essential in preventing injuries. Examinations are to include health histories, at risk dentitions, diagnosis of caries, maxilla/mandibular relationships, orthodontics, loose teeth, dental habits, crown and bridge work, missing teeth, artificial teeth, and the possible need for extractions for orthodontics wisdom teeth. These extractions should be done months prior to playing competitive sports as to not interfere with their competition or weaken the jaws during competition.
Sports dentistry also includes the need for recognition and referral guidelines to proper medical personnel for non-dental related injuries which may occur during a dental/facial injury. These injuries include cerebral concussion, head and neck injuries, and drug use. If a patient comes into dental office for a broken or knocked out tooth, dentist must rule out the possibility of a head injury or concussion before treating the patient for dental injury. If the symptoms persists such as headache or nausea, immediate referral to medical personnel is essential.
Symptoms of anorexia and bulimia can also be recognized during dental examination. Eating disorders are also common in female athletes. Erosion patterns in the teeth, caused by gastric acids, often help dentists in the differential diagnosis of eating disorders. These patients need to be referred to the proper medical and psychological health professional.