While Goa hosts the ongoing 37th National Games, and news of medals being won and records being set, come in, sports enthusiasts are getting to know more about sports, disciplines and the activities associated with it.
Today, let’s decode a related topic that isn’t heard of very often – sports dentistry. In Goa, this specialisation in dentistry is not too well-known.
UNDERSTANDING SPORTS DENTISTRY
Dr Roshni Fernandes, who has over 10 years of practice, working as an associate dentist at Pediatric Dental Care and Implant Centre, Panjim, says the need of the hour when so much focus is on sports, is to realise the importance of a sports dentist on the team.
“Waiting for a preventable injury to occur is not the best way to learn the significance of prevention, and the necessity of a sports dentist,” she says.
Realizing the need for this speciality, she decided to pursue sports dentistry herself and was certified by the Institute of Sports Science and Technology (ISST) as a Sports Dentist and has a diploma in Sports Medicine.
As a Certified ATLS provider (Advanced Trauma Life Support), Dr Roshni assisted in the Indian Super League (ISL) and is currently on the medical panel of the Goa Football Association (GFA).
“Although the Academy for Sports Dentistry (ASD) was founded in 1983 in San Antonio, Texas and the Indian Association of Sports Medicine (IASM) was established in 1971, sports dentistry is still fairly unheard of in Goa,” she rues.
Having a sports dentist on the back team is vital for those in contact sports and sports that involve high impact collision like karate, boxing, mixed martial arts, fencing or stage races like cycling and car racing, explains Dr Roshni.
She, however, adds that the need for sports dentistry far exceeds just the realm of contact sports.
“After getting certified in Sports Dentistry and Sports Medicine, I can assure you every outdoor sport requires a dentist, the reason being, that presentation and severity of injuries associated with every sport is varied. There is almost no outdoor sport where the likelihood of dento-facial injuries in some form is non-existent,” says she.
INJURY MANAGEMENT & PREVENTIVE MEASURES
To make things simpler to understand, general dentistry involves diagnosing, treating and long-term care of teeth and the oral tissues usually following some disease process.
“As a general dental surgeon, the procedures done in a clinical set-up primarily involves restoring teeth and treating dental diseases much after the damage has already occurred,” says Dr Roshni.
“However, sports dentistry involves specific procedures to prevent injuries caused by various sports activities, thus reducing the impact of trauma and eventualities that may arise before or during the sport itself, and immediate management of dento-facial injuries on field,” she elaborates.
ROLE OF A SPORTS DENTIST
Games and matches may not literally be fought tooth and nail, but in today’s highly competitive sports industry, where victories and losses are gauged in seconds and millimetres, nutritional training is very important, stresses Dr Roshni, and the role of a sports dentist is the key to fitness.
A sports dentist assesses athletes for their overall wellness, she adds.
“From oral hygiene procedures, fabricating mouth guards and head gears, based on the type of sport played, nutrition and water intake, to ensuring the use of other protective gear even during practice matches (which helps prevent injuries),” she says.
Mishaps happen when you least expect them, she states, adding, “Irrespective, of your medical specialisation, the basic protocol on-field – to save a life and prevent worsening of an injury – remains the same. However, in addition to administering first aid and CPR, the other advantages of having a sports dentist is to handle tooth avulsions and stabilize face and jaw fractures.
EFFECTS OF FOOD ON PLAYERS’ TEETH
In 2014, Dr Roshni presented a paper at the Indian Dental Conference, in Hyderabad, where she delved into the topic ‘Health and energy drinks, a necessary evil or death in a can.’
She discussed how, “Energy drinks, although classified as non-alcoholic beverages, contain stimulants, and are aggressively marketed as energy boosters, which when used over prolonged periods of time, cause teeth erosion, decay, halitosis, gingivitis, and can affect every aspect of the human body, from irregular heartbeats and insomnia to headaches and gastric disturbances.”
Unhealthy food habits and stress play further havoc on the teeth. Dr Roshni informs how sportspersons are prone to various conditions of stress and extreme exertion leading to constant teeth grinding (bruxism) which can trigger symptoms with the joint and myofascial pain.
“Other mal habits most common in athletes are nail biting or similar such habits, which often lead to severe attrition of teeth and extreme sensitivity and even Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) disorders. Consumption of a lot of citric, aerated or carbonated drinks only worsens this situation,” she says.
In conclusion, sports dentistry can make quite a difference to the performance of a sportsperson, not merely in terms of treatment, but also by addressing a host of oral issues before they lead to serious problems.
For consultations and more details about sports dentistry, Dr Roshni Fernandes can be contacted on +91 76201 83341 or firstname.lastname@example.org