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The hockey injury that no one talks about

Hockey season is underway, and as we all enjoy cheering on our favourite team, the health impacts from injuries are what no one talks about.

As the fastest team sport, with players skating up to 60km/h and hockey pucks flying up and down the rink at 160km/h, injuries are bound to happen. We often talk about the risks of concussions in impact sports, however, there are many other high-risk injuries that take players out of the game.

<who>Photo Credit: Getty Images</who>

In fact, dental trauma has been noted as a common and reoccurring affliction in ice hockey, and 10-39% of all sports injuries are dental related.

“I have lost two full teeth and lost partial parts of three others from a puck to the mouth,” explained former Kelowna Rockets player Brett Bulmer, who now plays for the Florida Everblades of the ECHL.

Retired NHL forward, Keith Tkachuk, is one of many not so lucky players to have undergone dental surgery from a flying puck to the face.

In a game against the Chicago Blackhawks, the puck managed to pass through players directly hitting Tkachuk’s mouth. As the puck deflected off of his jaw and into the net, so did his teeth. With the loss of six teeth and several hours of dental reconstruction surgery, he managed to shrug off the injury and be back on the ice within a couple weeks, but he was a lucky one.

<who>Photo Credit: Getty Images</who>

Risks of dental injuries

The risk of dental injuries in ice hockey are only increasing as more and more players are “forgetting” to wear their mouthguards. When a player hits the ice without the proper protection, they are at risk of a cracked or fractured tooth and root, having teeth knocked out or even broken jaw bones.

When a player takes a blow to the face by another player or by a hockey puck, teeth can be damaged. This can lead to sharp pains while drinking fluids or eating foods because of loss in the tooth’s outer enamel shell. While most dental injuries are visible, some are not, which is why you should consult a dentist.

As a spectator, watching a fight break out makes for great hockey, but the long-term effects of losing a tooth is not a laughing matter.

Be proactive and use protection

It is said that only half the players in the NHL actually wear a mouthguard when hitting the ice. The best way to prevent a mouth and dental injury is to wear a mouthguard. If you are a professional athlete, you should be consulting your team dentist and have an individually designed and custom-fitted mouthguard created for your specific mouth shape and size.

<who>Photo Credit: Kelowna Rockets/Shoot the Breeze</who>

After dealing with temporary teeth for the past few years, Bulmer decided to make things more permanent. “This past summer, my temporary ones were again knocked out and this time I wanted something more permanent. I previously had experience with Kelowna Dental Solutions and liked the way that Dr. Provencher went above and beyond to make sure my new set was a right fit for me. He made sure to remove any problems that might cause issues in the future.”

A tooth injury or knocked-out tooth can and should be repaired, and it is imperative to visit your dentist when a dental injury occurs. As the Kelowna Rockets’ dentist, Dr. Provencher knows the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth and smile and offers his patients everything from preventative treatments to full dental restoration and reconstruction, so they can get back on the ice and give us another Memorial Cup!

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