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!