You might think football or boxing is the most dangerous sport in America, but statistics show that among the most popularly played sports in America…cheerleading is in fact the most dangerous. Yes…cheerleading!
Cheerleading results in 66 to 70% of all serious sports related injuries among women in the country. There are approximately 3.6 million cheerleaders in the U.S. and 96% are female. The numbers of cheerleading injuries requiring treatment jumped from around 5000 in 1980 to almost 28,000 in 2007.
I was reminded of these staggering numbers last Saturday when I attended my receptionist Maura’s daughter’s high school basketball play-off game at CB South. During half time, three young cheerleaders threw one of their own into the air as they sometimes do. As the stunt was completed, I noticed one of the “catchers” grab her mouth and slowly walk off the court with a look of shock on her face. I left the gym to check on the young lady and found that her friend’s head had hit her in the mouth and fractured her central incisor (front tooth) in half …right down to the nerve!
One of the most difficult challenges in cosmetic dentistry is to match one central incisor to its natural counterpart. Yes it can be successfully repaired, but this beautiful young lady is now facing a lifetime of potential complications and additional treatments because of this one careless accident. I couldn’t help but think how wearing an athletic mouth guard could have been prevented all of this. It is unfortunate that at the high school level only football and field hockey have a requirement that mouth guards be worn. One can only hope this will change as more people become educated to the possible risks of dental injury that lurk in sport participation – even cheerleading!
The first time I recall hearing anything about obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) was shortly after the death of former Philadelphia Eagle and NFL great Reggie White, the famed “Minister of Defense”. Coming just a few weeks after his 43rd birthday, Reggie’s passing really affected my psyche and brought national attention to the issue. After all, he was such a physical specimen as to actually intimidate opposing players. So what happened?
It turns out that sleep apnea happens when one’s airway becomes blocked while sleeping. In many cases it is because a person is overweight and excess tissue thickens the wall of the windpipe making it more difficult to breathe. Sometimes it is because the throat muscles relax more than normal. It’s estimated that about 30 million Americans have sleep apnea with about half of those being undiagnosed. One study estimates the prevalence of OSA in the population visiting the dental office as approaching 34%.
The signs and symptoms of OSA can range from mild snoring to a feeling of general tiredness, cognitive impairment, an increase in blood pressure, pulmonary hypertension, obesity and an increase in one’s Body Mass Index (BMI). Left untreated OSA can result in heart attack, stroke and in the case of some, like Reggie White, premature death. Additionally, people with OSA are two-three times more likely to be involved in a car crash than those who do not suffer from it, and five times more likely to be involved in a serious car crash!
Obstructive Sleep Apnea can only be diagnosed by a qualified physician with the aid of a polysomnogram (sleep study).Initial treatment may involve abstaining from alcohol and sleep medications, weight loss and a change in sleep position.Beyond that, the gold standard for treatment of OSA is the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. Surgery may help some and the use of a removable dental appliance to open the airway may also help.
If you think you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea don’t hesitate to discuss this with your physician or call us for a referral.We will be looking for signs of this silent killer each and every time you visit us in the office as well!