‘Sports Dentistry’ is surely becoming the need of the hour with a lot of benefits to sports enthusiasts and to sports bodies, says Dr Roshni Fernandes – a Goan dentist with a ‘Certificate in Sports Dentistry and Diploma in Sports Medicine.’
‘Sports Dentistry’ is an area of expertise that involves prevention, management and post-trauma care of athletes with dento-facial injuries and oral diseases. And as India’s sports industry booms following their best-ever Olympics medal haul at Tokyo 2020, the number of sports enthusiasts has undergone a tremendous rise making various sports bodies look for the best of the resources to support the players in order to realise their goals.
According to Dr. Roshni, in the beginning it was challenging due to varied presentation of cases in different situations related to the sport. However, keeping abreast with the science gave her an edge, and slowly she was more comfortable in such situations. Getting certified in ‘Sports Dentistry’, boosted her confidence and now she feels she can handle and treat most eventualities.
“Sports is a part of our general well-being, so irrespective of whether one plays professionally or to build general fitness; one may not always be at the risk of injury and misfortune. However, every sport has its own emergencies and the injuries caused are different,” Dr Roshni told www.livenewsgoa.com.
“I’ve been working in a Pediatric Dental Clinic, treating children and adults since 10 years and what I realised is due to lack of awareness, parents and care-givers are not able to deliver appropriate dental first aid and they also tend to report very late to seek dental treatment after an injury has occurred. The injuries associated with every sport are different. To have a detailed understanding of how to prevent and manage dento-facial injuries and also to educate schools and sporting institutes made me pursue a certification in Sports Dentistry and Sports Medicine,” revealed Dr Roshni looking back on her journey.
And with injuries being part and parcel of competitive sports, doctors have to deal with traumatic incidents on the field regularly. Although the teams don’t have a dentist on their support staff, that time may not be too distant.
“Very recently we treated a cricket player who fractured his front 3 teeth, during practice. Despite the damage caused and the pain, the athlete’s only request was to save his original teeth and restore them before the next game. In the short span of time, we were able to relieve him of his pain and give him provisional teeth so that he could face the crowd and his team-mates at the next game.
“There are a lot of challenges we face as dentists. Once pain is relieved, patient’s focus immediately shifts to aesthetics and the social stigma to appear in public with bruises that haunt them to a point where it becomes challenging for dentists to deliver,” pointed out Dr Roshni.
Delving deeper into the types of injuries, she says: “Injuries vary from hard tissue to soft tissue injuries. Hard tissue injuries like tooth avulsions, intrusions, root fractures, facial bone fractures, dislocation of the mandibular bone to soft tissue injuries like lip lacerations, blunt force trauma causing nose bleeds or a black eye. In our dental practice, we have treated numerous sports related dental injuries. Apart from boxing, karate, mixed martial arts and similar contact sports injuries, far too many patients have reported with injuries while cycling, playing football or basketball.”
Dr Roshni feels that the preventive aspect of dental injuries is completely overlooked in the absence of a sports dentist. Some of the elements of preventive care are – evaluation of every player’s oral hygiene for dental caries and infections, ensuring that athletes wear protective gear, education about hydration and nutrition, awareness about prohibitted drugs that could alter their career and lifestyle.
“Without doubt, Sports dentist is essential for optimum performance and only when sports clubs/teams realise the need, will the teams be considered fit to participate in events! The wellbeing of athletes and participants should be of paramount importance to achieve the desired results. Imagine your player has a toothache on the day of a big game! Then what can you do? Anti-doping laws also do not allow certain drug consumption before a match. An injury during practice matches, wherein an athlete who was unmonitored, neglected wearing his mouthguard and protective gear, could jeopardise the outcome. No chance should be given to such preventable and unpredictable events because in a tournament every game could be the last or the next step to a great win,” asserts Dr Roshni.