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J Am Dent Assoc. 2007 Aug;138(8):1121-6.

The incidence and severity of dental trauma in intercollegiate athletes.

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  • 1Department of Endodontics, School of Dentistry, University of Washington, P.O. Box 357448, Seattle, Wash. 98195-7448, USA.



The use of protective devices such as mouthguards during participation in contact sports may be effective in reducing the incidence or severity of dental injuries.


Dental injuries reported to the athletic department at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, were recorded from 1996 through 2005. The authors classified each injury and determined the severity of the injury. Severity was defined in relation to the treatment required and the prognosis of the teeth and supporting tissues involved.


Fifty-one traumatic dental injuries were reported. Basketball was the sport with the highest injury rate; it had an incidence rate (IR) of 10.6 injuries per 100 athlete-seasons among men, and an IR of 5.0 injuries per 100 athlete-seasons among women. The IR for men's basketball players was five times higher than that for football players for whom mouthguard use is mandatory.


Given the relatively high incidence of dental injury in basketball and the potential of mouthguard use to reduce the incidence and severity of the trauma, mandatory use of mouthguards among collegiate basketball players should be considered.


Dental professionals have a responsibility to educate patients and the public about the importance of using mouth-guard protection in contact sports.

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