Though the recently wrapped summer Olympics featured some horrific injuries, and a comprehensive injury report has yet to be released, there appear to have been no significant dental injuries.

This could be due to increased attention to athletes’ dental care, or maybe such injuries were overshadowed by the fractured legs and dislocated elbows caught on camera and replayed ad infinitum. But athletes, Olympic-caliber and recreational alike, face a heightened risk for oral health injuries that require cosmetic dentistry treatment to repair the damage and restore a healthy smile.

Dental Care at the Summer Games

Substantial research in recent decades has demonstrated that poor dental health adversely affects athletic performance and overall health. In addition to being more vulnerable to dental injuries, Olympic athletes also seem to have higher rates of tooth decay and gum disease.

Olympic athlete

To help protect athletes from oral health problems and dental injuries, the International Olympic Committee launched a dental program and established a dental clinic for the 2016 summer games. Many participating nations, including the United States, have instituted dental initiatives for athletes.

At the Rio games, Olympians involved in contact sports were offered custom mouthguards, and all athletes had the opportunity to receive dental checkups and services including dental fillings and, if necessary, tooth extraction. Dentists were also present on the sidelines of high-risk events including boxing, basketball and rugby. The role of these dentists was to provide emergency care as necessary, evaluate the severity of the injury for competition, and stabilize the injury for further treatment by a dentist who specializes in cosmetic dentistry and restorative treatments.

Dental Injuries and Cosmetic Dentistry

A 2015 study of dental injury management in athletes noted that fractured teeth, broken teeth, impacted teeth, and partially or completely separated teeth were among the most common sports-related dental injuries.

There are a number of treatment options available depending on the type and severity of the dental trauma. Minor chips or cracks in the teeth may be addressed with composite dental bonding that provides a natural look while protecting the tooth from further damage. If a tooth is decayed or more severely damaged, a composite filling may be recommended.

If a tooth is missing, or is beyond repair, dental implants offer a durable and beautiful solution. Dental implants are anchored in the jaw bone and are designed to function, feel and look like natural teeth.

The cosmetic dentists at Smile Columbia Dentistry believe that a vibrant, healthy smile is worth its weight in gold. If you live in Columbia, SC, and you’re considering treatment to restore your smile, please call us at (803) 791-9090 to learn more about your options.