Your teeth are not tough...

 Bobby Clarke; Philadelphia Flyers great, Hall of Famer, Stanley Cup winner, and poster child for all toothless hockey players throughout the ages.

We mythologize about how tough hockey players are, and the toothless hockey player has become iconographic in those (largely White, cold) countries where the game is loved. But, dentifrice-be-damned, all of those frozen rubber discs smashing into the mouth at 100 mph takes its toll; mentally and certainly physically.

Ian LaPierre with another day at the office. Bonus points for the New Jersey fans cheering inadvertent violence and a shitload of blood.

Today, Yahoo's hockey blog Puck Daddy linked to an older story from the Globe and Mail about the dental horrors associated with the game. It is a fascinating read, and really goes to show that no matter how tough and manly these guys are, at the end of the day they are human: They fear the pain, they are scared when they get hit in the face, they are in a great deal of pain, and, yes, they regret the sacrifice. The whole article is worth reading, but here are some choice nuggets (emphasis added:

Tkachuk’s injury is an extreme example of the damage that sticks and pucks inflict on players’ mouths, but even minor blows can create a mess. Roughly half of the players in the league are missing at least some teeth, according to team dentists, with those 30 and over more likely to have had restorative work done.

Root canals are common, even for star players. (Tkachuk has had seven.). And because the inner areas of human teeth have the highest density of nerve endings in the body, catastrophic injuries can be more anguishing than broken limbs or torn ligaments. 

As a result, the team dentist is vital, and 19 NHL clubs list one or more on their website. The Chicago Blackhawks have four. On average, dentists have to evaluate a player every two or three games and do significant work about once a month.Some newer arenas even have a small dental suite in them.

Perhaps the busiest dentist in recent years has been the Washington Capitals’ Thomas Lenz, who helped repair former captain Chris Clark’s broken palate bone in 2006 – “it was basically sitting in the back of his throat when I got to him” – in one of the more horrific dental injuries.

All in all, a fascinating, if not painful, story and well worth the read.

I repeat, you are not manly.



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