Sports dentistry: From final impressions to the NBA Finals

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Mouth. The author, Dr. Ryan Cheung, won a Gold Crown Award for this article. To read more from ASDA’s print publication, Contour, click here.

Imagine yourself 10 years from now, running a successful dental practice in your hometown. After a long day of seeing patients, you run through a mental checklist of everything that needs to be done. Did all the lab work get sent out? Are charts up to date? Did the front desk call patients to remind them of their appointments?

What if you also had to figure out what time Kobe Bryant’s helicopter would land outside your office? Or navigate through 20 miles of infamous Southern California rush hour traffic to make it just in time for tipoff ? This is the world of Dr. Jeffrey Hoy, the team dentist for the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.

Dr. Hoy maintains a full-time private practice in Torrance, California. In addition, he provides comprehensive dental care to everyone within the Lakers’ organization, from Kobe Bryant to the family of staff members. As the team dentist, he also oversees all home games courtside at the Staples Center. His main responsibilities include emergency dental treatments and consultations.

“Emergencies in basketball don’t happen that frequently, but the LA Kings kept me very busy with injuries,” Dr. Hoy explained. “Just about every night I’ll have some kind of consulting or an exam. Somebody will come up to me and say, ‘Doc, what’s this?’ or, ‘I woke up with this spot on my tongue.’”

The Staples Center is equipped with full dental facilities to treat emergency situations. However, most examinations are followed up at his private practice in Torrance.

Dr. Hoy is a fellow and current secretary of the Academy for Sports Dentistry, or ASD. He served as president from 2008-2009. ASD was founded in 1983 as a forum to discuss ideas in sports dentistry and to specifically address the dental needs of athletes at risk to sports’ injuries. Today, ASD has more than 600 members and provides certification for those interested in becoming a team dentist. The goal of the course is to provide dentists with the tools and knowledge to properly educate players, coaches and parents on the prevention of sports-related oral injury and disease, fabricate properly fitted mouth guards, and diagnose and treat oral-facial trauma most commonly seen in sports injuries.

ASD also partnered with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association to increase the visibility of certified team dentists and create awareness for sports dentistry. ASD is now affiliated with the U.S. Olympic Committee. Certified team dentists can volunteer to join USOC’s health care team to provide dental care for Olympic athletes. This allows dentists interested in sports dentistry to gain hands-on experience and see what being a team dentist entails. The USOC program is only offered to members of the Academy for Sports Dentistry. Once accepted into the program, dentists are added to the Online National Medical Network Provider Database along with orthopedists, neurosurgeons, and primary care providers, as a resource for Team USA to access quality care wherever they train.

Dr. Hoy was born and raised in Torrance, California, and completed his undergraduate and dental education at the University of Southern California. He began working with the Los Angeles Kings in 1982, shortly after graduation, before joining the Lakers five years later. Becoming your hometown teams’ dentist seems like every sports fan’s dream job. Even after 30 years, Dr. Hoy still feels his heart race before every tip-off . Despite the glamour of his job, he warns of the long hours when trying to juggle his private practice on top of being the Lakers’ team dentist.

“Sports dentistry is an interesting field because it’s tough to do just sports dentistry and not have a private practice,” he explains. “It’s a tremendous amount of hours when you look at it. With those two teams, there could be four or five games a week when they’re both home.” All those nights at the Staples Center also come with their fair share of excitement, however. The instant gratification of an NBA championship in his first season, as well as the agonizing three decade wait before hoisting the Stanley Cup have definitely been enough to keep Dr. Hoy going through the years.

Dr. Hoy recalled a game in 2002 against the Golden State Warriors.

“Kobe and Antawn Jamison collided, and Antawn’s forehead went into Kobe’s mouth and laterally subluxed both his centrals, so he had an instant crossbite,” Dr. Hoy remembered. “I was at the bench, everybody’s circled around, and I’m reducing Kobe’s teeth. TV cameras were in my face, Phil Jackson was staring at me, but [Kobe] went out as the true warrior that he is, finished the game, and played the overtime.” Just another day at the office for the Lakers’ team dentist.

~Dr. Ryan Cheung, Southern California ’16

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"ASDA Archives" revisits articles previously published by ASDA via the Mouthing Off blog or Contour magazine. If you have a favorite article from the archives that you'd like to see featured on Mouthing Off, email Editor@ASDAnet.org.

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Comments (4)

  1. Dentist in Thousand Oaks

    Wow, what an amazing experience. I used to play basketball in school when I had an injury and broke a tooth. I went to my dentist at Dr. Amy’s Dental Office in Thousand Oaks, CA and they told me how often they saw sports-related injuries. I can relate to the article for sure. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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