Dental injuries in water polo, a survey of players in Switzerland

Dent Traumatol. 2012 Aug;28(4):287-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-9657.2011.01083.x. Epub 2011 Nov 23.


Water polo is a sporting activity which has a medium risk of causing dental trauma. Owing to the high speed, close body contact, and the combination of throwing and swimming that is inherent to the sport, the general injury potential is high. Using a standardized questionnaire for a total of 415 water polo players from Switzerland, this study examines the frequency of dental and facial injuries in water polo, athletes' habits regarding the wearing of mouthguards, and the general level of knowledge about emergency procedures following dental trauma. The participating players came from 6 divisions: Swiss national leagues A and B, first and second leagues, as well as the women's, and junior's league. The data were evaluated according to division and gender. Of the 415 interviewees, 185 (44.6%) had witnessed a dental injury in water polo. Eighty-seven (21.0%) players reported having suffered a tooth injury when playing water polo. Tooth fracture was the most stated dental injury [86 (16.4%)]. A similar number of tooth injuries were experienced by both male [355 (21.1%)] and female [60 (20.0%)] players. The interviewees over the age of 50 showed a higher incidence of tooth injuries than younger players (>50 years = 41.7%). Slightly more than half of the interviewed players [228 (54.9%)] were aware of the possibility of replanting avulsed teeth. As few as 43 (10.4%) players were familiar with tooth rescue boxes. Only 32 (7.7%) water polo players wore a mouthguard; the most common reason for not wearing a mouthguard was that it was seen to be unnecessary [169 (40.7%)]. This survey highlights the potential for improvement in the level of knowledge about dental injury prevention in water polo. In addition to information and guidelines from the relevant sports' associations, and coaches, dentists could also play a role in the provision of this education.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Facial Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Facial Injuries / etiology
  • Facial Injuries / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Protectors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Swimming / injuries*
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Tooth Avulsion / epidemiology*
  • Tooth Avulsion / etiology
  • Tooth Avulsion / prevention & control
  • Tooth Fractures / epidemiology*
  • Tooth Fractures / etiology
  • Tooth Fractures / prevention & control