He is the hockey player’s best friend.
For the last seven years, Marlies dentist Dr. Matthew Orzech has been cleaning up the damage from stray pucks, sticks and punches.
Quick. How many times has one of his players lost a tooth?
Fifty? One hundred?
“Three,” Dr. Orzech said. “Because of the protection from mouth guards, it’s almost unknown for a player to lose a tooth.”
So much for the image of the gap-toothed hockey player.
“Mouthguards are mandatory and even when a player gets a direct hit in the mouth the equipment really minimizes that impact,” he said.
Advances in dentistry mean root canals and chipped teeth, big deals in years past, border on the routine.
Because players in minor and university hockey use cages and younger people are more apt to floss, more and more players arrive in his chair with perfect teeth.
This is not to say the Marlies are any braver than the average Grade 3 student when it comes to needles.
“It’s funny, with hockey players they are comfortable with sutures but needles are something else,” said Dr. Orzech.
He estimated 40 per cent of his Marlie clients eschew freezing out of fear of the needle. Laser technology also means fewer patients need freezing.
When Dr. Ozech tells people about his Marlie clients they assume he is often elbow-deep in gore. Those same people are invariably surprised to hear how good the players ‘teeth are and how scared those same players are of needles.
“It’s like the old saying, the bigger they are, the harder they fall,” he said.