How many teeth are lost in the average NHL season?

How many teeth are lost in the average NHL season
Bentway Dental - Toronto, ON Dentist
Lost teeth and professional hockey have always been linked in both myth and fact. It’s highly common for a professional player to sustain an oral injury. Some amateur hockey players, even those as young as 16 years old, have also gone on record with lost teeth. There isn’t a specific number on how many teeth are lost in an average NHL season. Figures show that five million teeth are lost yearly in the United States as a result of sports-related injuries. Hockey ranks at the top of the list because of the amount of contact and the equipment used. One denfenceman for the New York Rangers lost six teeth in the first game of a 2013 series with the Boston Bruins.  The overall statistic is that 31.4 percent of those on the ice sustain an oral injury during their hockey career but that includes recreational, amateurs, and professionals. When numbers are isolated to professional hockey players, the percentage rises to 50 percent with some suggesting that as many as 85 percent of NHL players lose teeth. What’s worse is that many players put losing teeth as a status symbol in the sport. Stories over the past 40 years state that player would store their false teeth before a game by putting them in coffee and marking the cups with their numbers. Dentists hired by hockey teams to care for players rinkside state the status of losing teeth has been true until recent years when societal values have changed where good, strong teeth are more important than the machoism of losing them. Dentists working with the NHL state the cultural shift regarding teeth has changed the psychology of hockey players. They have seen fewer oral injuries in recent years because of more care and better safety equipment. Even so, NHL dentists see some of the most gruesome oral injuries. One player was given 75 sutures after a terrible pounding. Others leave the ice with exposed nerves, split tongues, and fractured jaws. It isn’t uncommon for a player to walk off with seven to nine teeth missing after a game. That is why NHL dentists specialize in trauma care. Their priorities are triage, speed, and improvisation. Their job is to do enough repair so a player can return to the game even if he’s missing teeth. The players then go to a dental office for restorative oral surgery like crowns, root canals, removable false teeth, and implants.

Why Are Lost Teeth So Common in Hockey?

Four primary reasons are the root causes for NHL players losing teeth. The first and number one reason is that hockey is a high-contact sport. It has much more constant contact than other sports like football, soccer, or basketball. Plus, hockey is known for numerous fights and those can become raucous. Another reason for lost teeth in hockey is a lack of use of protective equipment like facemasks and mouthguards. It is up to the players on some teams whether to use this equipment to protect their teeth and some choose not to use them. However, NHL dentists today state the trend among players is growing to protect teeth by wearing this equipment. Hockey equipment causes teeth issues for players. Hockey sticks are long, hard, and painful if they jab toward a player’s face. It can cause serious injury if the power of a human is behind it in a tussle over a puck. The puck can also be a culprit when it comes to losing teeth during a game. Hockey pucks are hard because they are made from vulcanized rubber. The rubber is heated to make it stronger and more durable. It can soar through the air and hit another player in the mouth, causing oral injury.

Making Teeth Stronger

Everyone from hockey players to average recreational athletes can make their teeth stronger. The best way to do that is to eat a nutritional diet that includes dairy products but also is rich in vegetables. Many vegetables are rich in calcium and foods like edamame, broccoli, kale, and leafy greens are all part of a diet that equates to stronger teeth. Staying away from foods that harm teeth, drinking lots of water, and maintaining an oral hygiene routine of brushing twice a day and flossing daily will all help improve teeth health and strength. Getting stronger teeth begins when you’re a child, even before your permanent teeth erupt. Parents need to be aware of diets that can help their children keep their teeth for a lifetime and set their children on the right dental path early in life with a good diet, proper oral hygiene, and regular dental exams. Part of what can keep your teeth strong as an adult is maintaining dental checkups and cleanings. Removing food debris, tartar, and plaque will limit the number of bacteria that can grow and reduce the risk of tooth decay. Some products can help add strength to tooth enamel and protect teeth better than others. Your dentist can offer recommendations on the best products, including toothpaste and rinses.

Make an Appointment

It’s always good to have a dentist available to your family in case there is a dental emergency like oral trauma that occurs during a hockey game or other sporting activity. We are available for emergency care and can help save teeth or link patients to restorative procedures to keep your smile looking good.

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Written by Bentway Dental

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