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The risks of winter sports

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  Posted by: The Probe      5th March 2020

There’s nothing better than booking a ski trip away somewhere and making the most of the colder part of the year. After all, with mugs of hot cocoa, relaxing hot tubs and grand resorts, a ski trip is always an enjoyable way to embrace the weather even before you hit the slopes.

However, as professionals we need to remember that a number of winter sports can be dangerous for patients, and it’s more than likely that patients won’t be aware of these dangers. As such, the dental team should be encouraging patients to take dental protection when they set off for a wintry break away.

How safe are the slopes?

If you think about it, it’s no real surprise that skiing is a dangerous activity. Even though we usually imagine ourselves gracefully gliding down the mountainside, the reality is that even the smallest mistake can lead to a painful tumble. In fact, according to the National Ski Areas Association, skiing and snowboarding accidents account for over 40 fatalities every year![i]

While the risk of fatalities is very small, the risk of dental injuries is more substantial, and there have been countless studies that show that skiing accidents can easily lead to painful or even irreversible dental damage. This includes dental trauma such as soft tissue lacerations and tooth damage, crown fractures, tooth luxation and more severe effects such as tooth avulsion.

Indeed, one study shows that out of 784 individuals who had suffered facial injuries while skiing in the Alpines, 41% suffered from dental trauma, with 639 teeth being damaged.[ii] Another study that looked at the incidence of dentals injuries among skiers and snowboarders found that among almost 1,500 maxillofacial injuries sustained, almost 900 of them resulted in dental trauma to some degree.[iii]

When you consider that thousands of people go skiing every season, the risk of dental trauma becomes a substantial threat that shouldn’t be ignored. This is especially true for those who are less experienced at these sports, as it stands to reason that these individuals are more prone to falls and collisions which can result in these types of injury.

Other winter sports carry risks too!

Of course, although skiing and snowboarding are arguably some of the most popular winter sports, there are other seasonal activities that carry risks of dental trauma too. Ice skating, for example, presents the same risks of collisions and tumbles which can result in dental trauma.

Although it is a much more popular sport overseas, in the UK there are still thousands of registered ice hockey players.[iv] Due to the nature of the sport, dental injuries are highly prevalent, and are often caused by being hit by someone else’s stick or due to collisions with other players.[v]

Protection prevents further problems

 So, if your patients are gearing up for a ski season on the slopes or are thinking of taking up a winter sport such as ice hockey, it’s important that you encourage them to use proper protection.

Mouthguards have been proven to be able to reduce the number of incidences and the severity of dental trauma when worn during sporting activities.[vi] This means that by recommending a mouthguard to these patients, you can help prevent them from possibly needing extensive and expensive dental treatment that could have been avoided.

Research has proven that custom mouthguards offer the best protection. This is because they provide a better fit and therefore can absorb the shocks caused by collisions/falls more effectively.[vii]

CosTech Dental Laboratory has a perfect solution for sporty patients – Saber Protect Custom mouthguards. Tailored to fit the unique oral anatomy of each patient, these versatile mouthguards can also be adapted to suit different sports/activities and are available in a range of colours and thicknesses to suit all ages and tastes.

Knowledge is key

Despite the dangers presented by winter sports, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that those who enjoy them are unaware that a mouthguard can offer significant protection. In a survey of 500 skiers and snowboarders, it was found that only two individuals wore a mouthguard when participating in these sports, even though 11 of the assessed group had already experienced dental trauma from these sports in the past.[viii]

It’s clear from this that more people need to be encouraged to wear mouthguards during these activities. By offering your patients the option of bespoke mouthguards which are custom made to offer the best protection possible and warning them of the potential dangers of winter sports, you will help them to reduce the chance of incurring an injury this season.

 

 For more information about CosTech Dental Laboratory, please visit www.costech.co.uk and www.saberprotect.com or call 01474 320076

 

[i] NSAA. Facts about Skiing/Snowboarding Safety. Link: https://www.nsaa.org/media/68045/NSAA-Facts-About-Skiing-Snowboarding-Safety-10-1-12.pdf [Last accessed December 19].

[ii] Gassner, R., Garcia, J., Leja, W., Stainer, M. Traumatic Dental Injuries and Alpine Skiing. Endod Dent Traumatol. 2000 Jun;16(3):122-7.

[iii] Tuli, T., Berger, N., Haechl, O., Laimer, K. Facial Trauma: How Dangerous Are Skiing and Snowboarding? Journal of oral and maxillofacial surgery: official journal of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons 2010. 68(2):293-9 ·

[iv] Statista. Total Number of Registered Ice Hockey Players in Great Britain from 2010/2011 to 2018/2019. Link: https://www.statista.com/statistics/348131/number-of-registered-ice-hockey-players-in-great-britain/ [Last accessed December 19].

[v] Lahti, H., Ylipaavalniemi, P. Dental Injuries in Ice Hockey Games and Training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Mar;34(3):400-2. [Last accessed December 19].

[vi] Young, E., Macias, C., Stephens, L. Common Dental Injury Management in Athletes. Sports Health. 2015 May; 7(3): 250–255.

[vii] Science Daily. Custom-Made Mouthguards Reduce Athletes’ Risk Of Concussion, Study Shows. Link:   https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501101133.htm [Last accessed December 19].

[viii] Swiss Dental Journal. Dental Trauma on Ski Slopes. Link: https://www.swissdentaljournal.org/fileadmin/upload_sso/2_Zahnaerzte/2_SDJ/SMfZ_2013/SMfZ_07_08_2013/smfz-07-08-research-2.pdf [Last accessed December 19].


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