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Prevalence of dental trauma in Pan American Games athletes


Dr Dennis N. Ranalli, Professor and Senior Associate Dean, University of Pittsburgh, School of Dental Medicine, 3501 Terrace Street, Suite 440, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA
Tel.: 412-648-8472
Fax: 412-648-8219


Abstract –  The aim of this cross-sectional epidemiological survey was to assess the prevalence of dental trauma in athletes representing 42 countries competing at the most recent Pan American Games (XV Pan Am) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in July of 2007, and to determine prior use and type of mouthguard among this group of athletes. The examiners participated in standardization and calibration training sessions before the field phase began. Invitations were sent to >5500 participating athletes competing in 41 sports and to the Medical Committee of the Pan American Sports Organization before and during the XV PAN. A convenience sample of 409 athletes was recruited. After signing an informed consent, all athletes answered a questionnaire. Data were collected at the clinical examination and recorded on a specific trauma form. The mean age of the athletes was 24.4 ± 5.3 years. Males comprised 55% of the sample; females 45%. The prevalence of dental trauma among the athletes was 49.6% (= 203) with no gender-based differences. Most of these injuries (63.6%) were related to activities during training or competition. Sports with the highest injury prevalence were wrestling (83.3%), boxing (73.7%), basketball (70.6%) and karate (60%). The most common injury was enamel fracture (39.8%); root fracture was the least common (0.4%). The teeth most affected were the maxillary permanent central incisors (= 113), followed by the mandibular central incisors (= 19). Based on the results of this study, nearly one-half of the subjects had experienced previous dental trauma; the majority related to sports activities. Furthermore, only 17% of the athletes reported prior mouthguard use; the most frequent mouthguards reported were boil-and-bite. These results suggest the importance of enhanced educational efforts and the use of properly fitted mouthguards to reduce dental trauma among athletes in international sports competition, especially in sports where mouthguards are not mandatory.