Senior year of high school, the glory year of being at the top of the social food chain, a 17-year-old Adam Berry was playing the most sacred sport in South Dakota: ice hockey. Berry, a varsity player, was looking to score a winning goal at a home game. The crowd was cheering, the ice sleek, the players racing down the rink. Berry and his teammates get organized to pass the puck with the ultimate play. However, in a blink of an eye, Berry’s mouth is bleeding, his maxillary alveolar bone aggressively compressed, pulp severed. In that moment, he realizes his front tooth met his opponent’s hockey high stick.
This is not uncommon. Every year, 5 million teeth are damaged in the United States due to sports-related injuries, according to research published in the December 2002 British Journal of Sports Medicine.
NHL players such as Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks and Keith Yandle of the Florida Panthers have the iconic ice
hockey player look: scruffy beard, long hair and many missing front teeth. Many NHL players only wear a half shell helmet, leaving the mouth completely unprotected. One company even sells cloth masks since some consider it an honor to join the ice hockey toothless club. Many ice hockey players damage teeth during the game. Most often, this happens when the mouth and high stick collide. However, pucks sometimes hit the mouth causing serious damage, according to the same research.
Berry never thought a mutilated front tooth would happen to him. He continued to play that game despite the injury. Two weeks later, Berry felt pain when drinking water. However, his fear of the dentist kept him from seeking immediate
treatment. Eventually, the pain became unbearable and he went to the dentist and received a root canal for tooth No. 9.
Read on in the April 2021 issue of Contour magazine.
~Anthoula Vlachos, Pacific ’21