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Ice hockey players of all ages experience oral and dental injuries. The aim of this study was to evaluate the rates of ice hockey-related oral injuries, time lost due to oral injury, and mechanisms of oral injuries in the province of Alberta during a 15-year period (2001-2016).
Hockey Alberta, the governing body for minor ice hockey associations across the province, collects injury report forms from injured participants in sanctioned events. Fifteen years (2001-2016) of this database was examined for total respondents suffering oral injuries. Data on total injuries, estimated time lost, and injury mechanism were analyzed.
Overall, 12 433 ice hockey-related injuries were recorded. The oral region was the third most common body part (16% of total injuries) to be injured after the arms and legs. Oral injuries have been occurring at a relatively constant rate each year from 2001 to 2016, with a maximum of 174 and minimum of 99 reported. Oral injuries usually result in a short absence from the sport of 1 week or less and tend to occur through being struck by a stick or the hockey puck. This differs from total injuries, which tend to occur through collisions with the boards or other players.
Rates of oral injuries in Alberta due to ice hockey comprise a significant portion of the injuries that players sustain. Oral injuries occur mostly when a player is struck with a puck or stick, and the rest of the body is injured primarily through collisions. Dental practitioners can help ice hockey athletes prevent oral and dental injuries through encouraging the use of mouthguards (custom over boil and bite) and continuing to wear full-face protection.