From teeth badly damaged by physical trauma to gums ravaged by periodontal disease, dentists sometimes see things that most people may find more fit for horror films. And a recent article on the sports website Bleacher Report suggests that no one sees scarier dental injuries than the dentists of the National Hockey League (NHL).
Blood on the Ice
The engrossing—and sometimes just plain gross—article “Blood, Sweat and Teeth” details the intense experiences of NHL dentists. These steel-stomached dental professionals may, on any given night, encounter:
- Broken teeth
- Ripped gums
- Dislodged teeth
- Fractured jaws
The sources of the injuries are also a mixed bag, and may be the result of:
- Ice skates
One dentist believes that mandatory mouthguards or full face shields will one day become a reality in order to prevent gruesome injuries to the mouth and face.
Back on the Ice
Perhaps surprisingly, most dental and facial injuries don’t prevent players from heading back onto the ice. Unless a potential concussion is present, most players seek a quick fix in order to finish the game.
The dentists interviewed for the article noted that most dental injuries are not emergencies, but they said they will ask that players be removed from games for broken jaws or other injuries that may have long-term consequences. Generally speaking, if a player can withstand the pain, he can keep playing; and if you think hockey players aren’t tough, consider the anecdote of a player who had stick fragments scraped out of his jawbone and called the process “a little uncomfortable.”
A Mix of Art and Science
Dentists who treat the spectrum of injuries experienced by NHL players must have a similarly diverse background. Experience in cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry are critical; these specialized areas employ a blend of art and science to preserve bite function and maintain a healthy, natural-looking smile.
Of course, these two dental fields also have practical applications for those of us who aren’t professional athletes. From porcelain veneers to dental implants to clear braces like Invisalign®, there are a number of treatments designed to provide you with a bright, healthy, beautifully aligned smile.
To learn more about your cosmetic dentistry options, or to schedule a free consultation, please contact Dan Matthews, DDS, online or call our office at 512-452-2273. Dr. Matthews welcomes patients from the greater Austin, Texas, area.