Last week, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) published its new position statement, “Preventing and Managing Sport-Related Dental and Oral Injuries.”
This statement is a huge step in the direction of expanding mouthguard mandates. As the number of high school and collegiate athletes in competitive sports, now estimated at 7.2 million, continues to grow, so does the rate of injuries, including those that are dental and oral-related.According to the statement authors, mouthguards are mandated in only a few sports by both the NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Yet, researchers have estimated that in sports such as baseball, basketball and soccer, which do not mandate mouthguards, orofacial injury rates ranged from approximately 3 percent to 38 percent of all sport-related injuries.
Research further indicates that sport participants who did not wear mouthguards were 1.6 to 1.9 times more likely to sustain an orofacial injury compared to those who wore them.
“It’s also important to recognize the often overlooked financial burden of oral and dental injuries,” says lead author Trenton E. Gould, PhD, ATC, associate dean, College of Health, and professor, School of Kinesiology, at the University of Southern Mississippi.
“Treating a dental trauma, such as an entire tooth being knocked out, can cost upwards of $10,000. Effective management of sport-related dental injuries is critical to the long-term financial, physical and emotional health of anyone who has experienced dental trauma.”
The position statement offers guidelines on how to prevent and manage sport-related dental and oral injuries. Here are the highlights:
Position statement recommendations
Dental injuries can affect different parts of the tooth. An athletic trainer or other health care professional will need to properly assess the injury, provide acute management and make return-to-play or referral decisions. Broad injury categories include:
Mouthguard material, fabrication and care considerations
“Athletic trainers, as well as other health care professionals, play a pivotal role in the effective management of oral and dental injuries, says Gould. “This is critical to the injured athlete’s long-term oral health outcome and overall physical and mental well-being.”
For more information please visit: www.nata.org.
About NATA: National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) – Health Care for Life & Sport
Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 44,000 members of the athletic training profession. Visit www.nata.org.