The National Hockey League is known for its rough game play and frequent tussles with opposing players, however few may consider the pivotal role that dentistry plays in maintaining the overall health of the players. Despite their protective gum shields, helmets, and padding, dental trauma can be a regular occupational hazard.
Hockey players can suffer many different facial injuries whilst playing the sport, including broken or avulsed teeth, smashed jaws, exposed nerves, and damaged lips to name a few. Root canal treatments, temporary fillings, and syringes full of numbing agents are a frequent occurrence within the sport.
The Tampa Bay Lightening’s goal keeper, Ben Bishop, suffered a particularly bad trauma back in October, when the hockey puck hit his face guard with such force it snapped the chin strap into his mouth, knocking out his two front teeth. The team dentist, Gil Rivera, was on hand to repair the damage. Rivera admitted to the Globe and Mail that the job was so diverse he never knew what was coming next, “I have seen violent, gruesome, trauma from a puck that has become a missile. There are images in my head that I will never forget. There are a lot of things that I would never see outside of a hockey rink. I could never even dream of them.” Luckily for the players, their team dentists are on hand to save the day.