Dental injuries sustained by high school athletes in the United States, from 2008/2009 through 2013/2014 academic years

Dent Traumatol. 2016 Apr;32(2):121-7. doi: 10.1111/edt.12228. Epub 2015 Sep 26.


Background/aim: Risk of dental injuries is present in a variety of sports. Mouthguards are effective yet underutilized. This study aimed to estimate the rate of dental injuries among high school athletes and investigate the utilization of mouthguards across multiple high school sports.

Materials and methods: Athlete exposure and dental injury data were collected during the 2008/2009 through 2013/2014 academic years from a large sample of high schools in the United States as part of the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study.

Results: There were 222 dental injuries sustained during 24,787,258 athlete exposures for a rate of 0.90 per 100,000 athlete exposures. The rate of dental injuries in competition (1.8) was three times higher than the rate in practice (0.6) (RR: 3.1, 95% CI: 2.3-4.0). Rates of dental injuries varied by sport with the highest rates in girls' field hockey (3.9) and boys' basketball (2.6). Dental injuries most commonly occurred as a result of contact with another player (61.3%) and contact with a playing apparatus (31.5%). For the majority of dental injuries, the athlete was not wearing a mouthguard (72.5%). Among injuries where athletes were wearing mouthguards, the majority were self-fitted (95.9%).

Conclusions: Although dental injuries were relatively uncommon, the majority occurred while the athlete was not wearing a mouthguard. As previous studies have shown that mouthguards are effective in preventing injuries, all high school athletes participating in a sport that places them at risk of sustaining a dental injury should wear a mouthguard consistently in both competition and practice.

Keywords: dental; injury; sports.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mouth Protectors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Sports Equipment
  • Tooth Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Tooth Injuries / prevention & control
  • United States / epidemiology