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Sports-Related Dental Injuries and Sports Dentistry (AGD 154)

Presenter: Updated 2017 by Rick Knowlton, DMD, MAGD; Original Authors: Connie Kracher, PhD, MSD; and Wendy Schmeling Smith, RDH, BSED


Whether for exercise, competition or the simple enjoyment of recreational activity, increasing numbers of health conscious Americans are involved in sporting activities.1 Approximately 20 million children participate in various sports programs in the United States and another 80 million are involved in unsupervised recreational sports. In 2016, the Aspen Institute stated that three out of four American households have at least one school-aged child participating in sports, translating to approximately 56.6% in organized sports.50 Nearly one quarter of American adults engage in some sort of sport.

Additionally, 15 million Americans suffer dental injuries and 5 million teeth are lost annually in sports-related injuries. During a single athletic season, athletes have a 1 in 10 chance of suffering a facial or dental injury. In fact, the lifetime risk of such an injury is estimated to be about 45% according to the National Youth Sports Foundation.41 Dentistry plays a large role in treating oral and craniofacial injuries resulting from sporting activities.

Prior to the 1980’s, little was available in the scientific literature in terms of sports-related injury assessment. Several injury surveillance systems have been established in an attempt to track sports-related accidents and injuries. While all injury surveillance systems provide valuable information on generalized sports injuries, very little information is available regarding dental or craniofacial injuries. In terms of data collection and analysis, the field is open for dentistry to assume a major leadership role in assessing dental injuries resulting from sporting activities.3 One reason for such lack of scientific studies regarding this issue is the absence of academic training in sports dentistry. A survey by Kumamoto and others was sent to 69 dental schools in the United States and Canada regarding course offerings, opinions about offering a course, construction of mouthguards, and provision of treatment for trauma. Of the 19 dental schools with sports dentistry courses, 17 taught the course in the undergraduate curriculum, 12 as a required course and the remaining 5 as an elective. Two schools offered the course on a graduate level. Data from the study also concluded that more than half of the schools that teach sports dentistry do not treat any outside athletic group on a regular basis.4

This course is designed to explain the various sports-related dental injuries, discuss the three types of mouthguards utilized and the dental team’s role in sports-related injuries and sports dentistry.


ORIGINAL AUTHORS: Connie Kracher, Ph.D, MSD and Wendy Schmeling Smith, RDH, B.S.Ed.

UPDATED IN 2017: Rick Knowlton, DMD, MAGD

Rick Knowlton DMD, MAGD, is the 2013-2014 President of the Academy for Sports Dentistry. He practices general and esthetic dentistry in Elizabethtown, Pa. and is the team dentist for numerous local sports teams and lectures on Sports Dentistry and related topics. 


At the completion of this course, the dental professional should be able to:

• Discuss various statistics relating to sports dental-related injuries.
• Discuss soft tissue injuries, jaw fractures, TMJ injuries, tooth intrusion. crown and root fractures, and avulsion due to sports accidents.
• Explain emergency treatment with sports-related injuries.
• Differentiate various observed patterns of mouthguard wearing by males and females, cultural differences, and the influence of peer pressure.
• Identify and differentiate the three mouth-guards available and identify the ideal mouth guard. 


The ADAA has an obligation to disseminate knowledge in the field of dentistry.  Sponsorship of a continuing education program by the ADAA does not necessarily imply endorsement of a particular philosophy, product or technique.

The ADAA cautions participants taking this course on the hazards of using limited knowledge when integrating new techniques into their practices.

Credits earned upon completion of the course may be used to meet DANB’s Recertification Requirements.


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