Title: Prevalence and prevention of dental injuries in young taekwondo athletes in Croatia
Abstract: Aim The aim of this study was to evaluate the occurrence of dental and facial injuries, the habit of wearing mouthguard and the awareness regarding injury prevention and first aid after tooth avulsion among young taekwondo athletes in Croatia.
Materials and methods A survey on a sample of 484 taekwondo athletes was conducted, which included 271 male (56%) and 213 female (44%) athletes aged between 8 and 28 years. The questionnaire submitted to the athletes contained 15 questions about dental trauma, use of mouthguard, dental trauma prevention, level of awareness about tooth avulsion and replantation and disturbances associated with mouthguard use. Collected data were evaluated according to gender, age groups and duration of actively engagement in taekwondo. Descriptive statistics and Chi-square tests were used for comparisons between groups.
Results From the survey 300 (62%) of 484 athletes had sustained one serious injury and 103 (21%) had sustained an orofacial injury, while 194 (40%) had observed another player sustaining a dental injury. Higher number of orofacial injuries was observed in males (24%) than in females (18%). Furthermore, 98 (20%) athletes have experienced one or more dental injuries, and out of these 98 suffering dental injury 60 were male (61%) and 38 were female (39%). The frequency of orofacial injuries in the older group (42%) is higher than in three younger groups (younger cadets 25%; cadets 13%; juniors 20%) (p<0.05). Mouthguard wearing was recorded in 465 athletes (96%), 47.1% of them wear stock mouthguard, 47.6% wear boil and bite mouthguard, but only 5.3% were custom-made mouthguards. Most of them (96%) consider that mouthguards are useful for injury prevention in taekwondo.
Conclusion The results of this survey show that dental and orofacial injuries occur in taekwondo in all age groups but mostly in the senior group. Taekwondo players know the importance of mouthguard use, but only 5% use custom made mouthguards. This is not adequate for dental injury prevention and highlights the important role of dental professional in education of athletes for advocating the use of custom made mouthguards.