A Bradford City footballer made the news in November 2020, a clash of heads leading to maxillofacial surgery and four months out of the game. A professional risk perhaps but the same can happen to most of us.
Sport is part of life and has benefits, improved confidence, particularly for younger players, regular exercise and enjoyment at any age. A good use of time for health and wellbeing but not without risks.
Upper body, especially head, or oral injuries are far from rare in many sports. Worldwide research data is consistent, with an average of 16% of all dental, or maxillofacial injuries being sports related.
Neither is the gap between age groups significant, younger participants are a little more likely to be injured but we all need to take care.
With the head and jaw a focus for us, helmets, head guards and mouth guards come to mind. They make a difference, even during casual, or practice sessions, with mouth guards proven to substantially reduce oral damage.
We think of ankle sprains, or knee injuries as common sports problems, yet concussion makes the top ten. Protecting your head and oral region is valuable to areas which can suffer more serious injuries.
Taking note of your health matters, beyond generally keeping in good shape. Going into a sport carrying an injury is a great way to make this worse, including parts of your body which are not so obvious.
Jaw, or dental issues should be properly diagnosed and attended to. Unexplained pain in your head, or neck will have an explanation, ignoring this and playing anyway can be a route to making sport more dangerous.
After The Event
Thinking of safety helps, although we can all fall victim to the unexpected. Contact sports such as rugby, or football do cause injuries, although a surprising number come from falls, or misjudged landings.
With the advent of compulsory seat belts reducing driving risks, this type of head injury has taken the lead in accidental causes. The most significant factor in recovering from them is to ensure the damage is understood.
Serious injuries may be evident but not always. A simple cheek laceration with a degree of discomfort behind could be masking a deeper jaw injury, a chipped tooth which feels painful could be a root fracture.
Bone fractures are quite common, not least around the jaw, or nose and require accurate diagnosis. A suitable scan naturally, followed by the view of a specialist who appreciates the detail and long term outcome.
We hardly need to say that head injuries can be dangerous, damage to the brain comes to mind but all regions need good care. Your breathing, ability to eat, speech, cognition, or appearance depend on this.
Visiting a maxillofacial consultant after a sports injury is about caring for all aspects. Professional diagnosis and treatment will cover oral conditions, dental preservation, facial, or plastic surgery if needed.
Beyond their individual function, the way elements of a complex part of your body work together is understood, advice is focused on the future.
The objective is to ensure that an injury does not have unseen outcomes and recovery is as swift as possible. The elimination of discomfort, a return to normal life and of course, getting back to the sport you enjoy.