Prevention of craniofacial injuries in football

D N Ranalli
Dental Clinics of North America 1991, 35 (4): 627-45
The evolution of rules and regulations governing the development and use of protective football equipment for the prevention of craniofacial and intraoral traumatic injuries to football players have reduced substantially the occurrence of these injuries. Protective football equipment such as helmets, facemasks, and intraoral mouthguards have undergone numerous developmental changes to improve their effectiveness in preventing traumatic injuries to the head, face, and mouth of participants in football during practice sessions as well as in game situations. Unfortunately, however, some of these types of injuries do continue to occur. Various regulatory agencies and football governing bodies have established quality performance standards for equipment and have enacted rulings for their proper use. Penalties have been assessed for rule infractions to aid in curtailing the misuse of such equipment, as occurs for example, when the helmet is used to spear tackle an opponent or when the facemask is grasped, pulled, or twisted by an opposing player. Dentists can contribute significantly to the overall well-being of their patients who participate in football by providing information and advice regarding the proper use of protective football equipment to prevent craniofacial and intraoral traumatic football-related injuries, by fabricating properly fitted mouthguards as one aspect of their total practice of dentistry, and by providing high-quality and expeditious emergency and long-term treatment subsequent to football-related intraoral traumatic injuries. In addition, dentists can contribute on a larger scale to the overall well-being of football athletes by participating in community service activities such as mouthguard days, as consultants to football teams, as team dentists, or as advisors to those interested in research and development to improve protective football equipment, and to those responsible for sponsoring more stringent regulations for player safety in football.

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