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Soccer Players at Risk for Mouth, Face Injuries

Turkish study finds a fifth of cases are linked to the popular sport

FRIDAY, Oct. 13, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Amateur soccer players suffer a surprisingly high number of face and mouth injuries, a new report finds.

Oral surgeons at Ataturk University in Erzurum, Turkey, reviewed 53 cases of mouth, jaw, and facial injuries they treated over the course of a year.

Of those 53 cases, 11 (20 percent) involved amateur soccer players.

The most common soccer-related injuries were dental fractures, followed by fractures of the lower jaw, and problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which moves the jaws. One player had a broken nose.

About two-thirds of the injuries were caused when soccer players ran into one another, while the other injuries were the result of impact with equipment or the ground, the study said.

While this study found that soccer accounted for 20 percent of serious oral and craniofacial injuries in Turkey (where soccer is enormously popular), the true rate of injury in that country is probably much higher, the researchers said. They noted that soccer players who suffer eye and nose injuries would likely be seen by other medical specialists.

Mouthguards and faceguards could prevent many soccer-related mouth and facial injuries, but few soccer players use these protective devices, the researchers noted. Amateur soccer coaches and officials must do more to increase players' use of this kind of safety gear, and manufacturers need to improve the fit and comfort of the devices, the authors said.

The study was published in the current issue of the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers tips for preventing soccer injuries.

SOURCE: Lippincot Williams & Wilkins, news release, Oct. 13, 2006
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