As the oral surgeon for the D.C. United soccer team since the beginning of MLS in 1996, I’ve had the pleasure of working with several dedicated dentists who have devoted their time and resources to the care of this special group of professional athletes. Staying healthy and free of any dental problems during the season is critical for the team’s performance. Any problems like dental decay, wisdom teeth infections, or gum disease can compromise players’ performance and, potentially, keep them out of matches. This can be very costly to the team and the entire organization.
In order to prevent these problems, we provide comprehensive dental screenings for the entire team every year before the season begins. We examine the players’ teeth and take dental X-rays to check for caries or gum disease and take impressions to make mouth guards. Any impacted or malpositioned wisdom teeth are extracted to avoid ﬂare-ups. Any gum disease is also treated to avoid further progression. Teeth with caries are restored and a general cleaning is completed to keep their gums healthy. The goal is to treat and eliminate all potential problems before the season begins so the players can play to their full potential and avoid any costly disruptions.
This level of care and concern should not be reserved only for professional athletes. Dental emergencies such as teeth pain or infection can be quite costly for anyone, including the expense of treatment as well as the impact of lost time from work or school. Regular dental check-ups have long been recommended for keeping the mouth and teeth healthy and to prevent the pain, expense, and inconvenience of emergency treatment. Everyone should be careful not to neglect regular dental screenings. It’s a discipline good for the professional athletes as well as the rest of us.