Football, Teeth, and the 1958 World Cup
With the Super Bowl right around the corner, us sports fans at Wurzbach Parkway Family Dental thought we’d talk about a subject that’s just as close to the field as it is to the dental chair.
Did your team make it to the Super Bowl this year? If not, who are you rooting for? We know who we’ll be cheering on – the real MVP – Sports Dentistry. (Crowd roars.)
What is Sports Dentistry?
Dentists in this arena work with athletes to prevent, treat, and diagnose oral injuries. This includes making sure athletes are wearing the proper protective equipment, such as helmets, face shields, goggles, and mouthguards. A sports dentist is critical to any team, especially since the most common facial injury in sports is dental related.
In addition to advising coaches and athletes on the best protection methods to guard against dental injuries, sports dentists are also able to offer the rest of the scientific community insightful information on dental trauma. Due to their unique research laboratory, sports dentists get to see a much wider range of cause and effect situations around orofacial injuries than the family dentist usually sees. They are then able to collect and disseminate this information to the greater dental community, which benefits all dentists and helps them better treat their patients who’ve endured dental trauma.
Even though a sports dentist sounds like a no-brainer addition to the medical roster of a sports team, the history of sports dentistry itself is still fairly new in the United States. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1980s that American dental professionals started working in sports.
The gold star of sports dentistry goes to the country of Brazil and their soccer team. Back in 1958, the dentist Mario Trigo traveled with the Brazilian soccer team to the FIFA World Cup in Sweden. The World Cup lasted most of the month of June, and during that time Dr. Trigo pulled 118 teeth from 33 different players. He observed that the athletes who waited longer to diagnose, treat, and recover from their concussions were the same athletes with dental infections! (Interesting, huh?)
Dr. Trigo’s findings back in 1958 are in line with findings that dental scientists see today – that oral health has a systemic link to the overall well-being of the rest of the body and vice versa. This correlation is known as the Oral Systemic Link and can affect a patient’s overall health in a variety of ways.
And Why Should You Care?
In short: A sports dentist keeps your favorite athlete healthier and playing on the field for longer. (And that athlete could be you, your child, or your favorite team’s quarterback.)
Sports dentists are there to keep our teeth in our head and our eyes on the ball. They give us research and insight into the effectiveness of different types of mouthguards, helmets, and other facial protection. For example, you can thank sports dentists for creating and popularizing custom-fitting mouthguards designed for every athlete from a professional football player to an after-work kickboxing mom to a pee-wee soccer star.
You can also thank sports dentists for denouncing those sugary abominations that TV commercials call “sports” drinks. In fact, most athletes don’t drink “sports” drinks at all, because they contain way too much sugar (the number two ingredient after water) and not enough of the vitamins, electrolytes, and protein that they really need. (If they’re thirsty, they drink water, and they make their own healthy sports drinks.)
Sports dentistry teaches athletes how to care for their teeth so that they can stay healthy and enjoy the game. Sports dentists teach us the best practices for injury prevention, and they help us better understand the anatomy of oral trauma and how to best recover from it.
This is one of the reasons we offer free custom-fit mouthguards for our patients. If you’re an athlete or your child is an athlete, or if you’re thinking of taking up a sport, then make an appointment here to get yours made today. We can answer all your questions about how to keep your mouth healthy while participating in athletics for school and recreation. Because we want you to stay active, but we also want you to stay safe too. We hope you enjoy SuperBowl Game Day and remember, brush your teeth after all that party food!