Protect Athletes Pearly Whites From Long-term Damage

Protect Athletes Pearly Whites From Long-term Damage

By Cynthia Wright

While growing up, almost 50 percent of kids will have some type of injury to a tooth, often after a fall, sports injury, or a fight. In most cases, teeth injuries are not life threatening, but occasionally, a child may develop serious complications. Injuries can also have long-lasting effects on appearance and self confidence.

When opening her second dental office in Sandfly, Dr. Angela Canfield decided to develop and implement the Canfield Mouth Shield Program, as a way to help the youth in Savannah maintain a healthy smile. Last year was the first year running the program, and Benedictine Military School Cadets received a donation of over $9,000 worth of custom fit mouth gear for their entire team.

Trained to provide dental implants, one-day crowns, bridges, dental surgery, and porcelain veneers, Dr. Canfield began her career with an undergraduate degree in Biology with an emphasis in nutrition and gerontology from West Virginia University. From there, she graduated from West Virginia University School of Dentistry in 2005 with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree.

“After attending West Virginia School of Dentistry, I completed advanced courses in restorative and cosmetic dentistry as well as orthodontics and periodontics,” said Dr. Canfield.
 Now, she is a licensed member of the Georgia Board of Dentistry and the National Board of Dentistry.

“My husband and I wanted to live near the beach,” she says. “In an area with warmer weather. We loved the history and vibe in Savannah, and here we are.” And here she has grown her Dentistry business.

Dr. Canfield owns and practices at two dental offices: Premier Dental Designs located in Rincon, GA at 5871 HWY 21 South, and Sandfly Family Dental located in the Norwood Market in Savannah, GA. Working with all members of the family, including young children, 
Dr. Canfield said, “We integrate the latest dental technology, including E4D technology, low-radiation digital X-rays, intra-oral cameras and high-powered telescopic loupes with a friendly and personal approach.”

Dr. Canfield said, “I decided to start the Canfield Mouth Shield program last year after opening my second dental location as a way to give by to the community. My husband and I love sports, and mouth guards are a very important protective piece for a young athlete to wear.”

Custom-made intact mouth guards provide stability to the players’ jaws and cushion blows that can cause severe dental injuries, like broken teeth, fractured jaws, gum lacerations and injuries to their lips or tongue by their teeth. According to the American Dental Association, the most effective mouthguard should be comfortable, resistant to tearing, and resilient. A mouthguard should fit properly, be durable, easily cleaned, and not restrict speech or breathing.

“Damaging jaw and tooth impact can be caused by anything from direct contact to a misplaced step while running,” said Dr. Canfield. “Research shows that wearing custom-fit mouth guards reduces the risk of severe injuries.”

Types of Dental injuries to the teeth can be grouped in three different categories with care specific to each type: Fracture, Avulsion and Luxation. A fracture can be classified as a root fracture, broken tooth or chipped tooth. If a player fractures a tooth, Dr. Canfield recommends stabilizes the portion of tooth still in mouth by gently biting on towel to control bleeding. The player should then be immediately taken to a dentist, with tooth fragments transported in a cup of milk, saline soaked gauze, or under the athlete’s tongue.

Avulsion is when the entire tooth, including root, is knocked out of the player’s mouth. When this happens, only do not handle tooth by the root and do not brush, scrub, or sterilize tooth. If tooth is dirty, gently rinse with water. Place the tooth back in socket and have the athlete gently bite down on towel. If you can’t reimplant tooth, transport it in the same solutions as you would for a fracture.

Luxation occurs when the tooth is in socket, but in a wrong position. An extruded tooth appears longer than surrounding teeth because it is pulled up; a lateral displacement is when a tooth is pushed back or pulled forward.

It is important to remember that damaged teeth do not grow back. Athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment present a particular problem as they are potentially at greater risk of injury because of increased tooth mobility and the presence of orthodontic appliances.

Dental injuries can be easily prevented, and it has been suggested that a properly fitted custom mouthguard may reduce the rate of concussion as well as dental injuries. The American Dental Association (ADA) estimates that the use of mouth guards prevents approximately 200,000 injuries per year in high school and college football teams alone. But mouth guards are important for all types of sports.

Some experts recommend that mouthguards be worn by athletes in competitive and recreational sports in which impact, contact and collision are likely to occur. The American Dental Association recommends wearing custom mouthguards for the following sports: acrobats, basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, roller hockey, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling. Other experts include baseball and softball infielders on that list. They further recommend the mouthguard to be worn during all practices and competition.

Last year, Dr. Canfield donated maroon and white mouth guards to the Benedictine Military School football team, a donation totaling over $9,000 worth of protection equipment. This year, the advisory board chose Robert W. Groves High School and Hancock Day School to be the recipients for the 2015 Canfield Mouth Shield Program. These schools were selected out of the applications received from all over Savannah.

The mouth guards for Groves have a one year warranty. The warranty covers the dental expenses incurred by players if they are injured while wearing the mouth guards. The warranty also pays $1,093.75 per injured or replaced tooth and up to a maximum total liability of $35,000 per incident.

Every year, Dr. Canfield will be selecting an impact sports team to donate mouth guards as part of The Canfield Mouth-Shield Program. Applications for the 2016 Canfield Mouth-Shield Team should be submitted before June 1, 2016 to be considered by the advisory board. For more information or to apply, visit or call 912.826.4037.

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