Utah dentists prepare for Winter Olympics

Feb. 5, 2002
Fourteen volunteer dentists from Salt Lake City are ready to pitch in at the Games.

With the start of the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games just a few days away, 14 volunteer dentists in Salt Lake City have rearranged schedules, closed their offices and have reported for onsite 24-hour dental care duty for the athletes, their coaches and members of the Olympic family, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.

The on-site two-chair dental care clinic set up within the main medical clinic, known as the Polyclinic, is located in the bottom floor of a hotel within the Olympic Village. Volunteers will help meet the medical and dental needs of a crowd estimated at more than 700,000.

"The dental team is ready to handle everything from taking care of existing dental decay and placing new silver or tooth-colored restorations, fixing traumatic dental injuries from a ski jumping accident or a chipped tooth from slipping on ice," says Van Johnson, DDS, MAGD, president, Utah Academy of General Dentistry.

"The support of the dental and medical volunteers will help ensure the well-being and safety of all who attend the Winter Games," says Dr. Johnson. "We look forward to giving something back to the dedicated professional athletes."

The dental team will also provide complimentary dental services to international athletes, who may not have access to dental health care and provide mouthguards for athletes lacking protective mouthgear.

"A mouthguard can prevent serious injuries such as chipped, cracked or fractured teeth, help prevent dislodged or displaced teeth and help protect the teeth when the lower jaw gets jammed into the upper jaw," says Dr. Johnson. Mouthguards also help prevent lacerations and bruising of the lips and cheeks, especially for those who wear orthodontic appliances.

According to an American Medical News article, the 2002 Winter Games are scheduled to bring in more than 2,000 Olympic athletes from 80 different countries, 1,100 Paralympians from 40 different countries, 1,200 officials and 9,000 journalists. Thirty thousand workers are expected to volunteer. More than 700,000 tickets have been sold.

For additional information on mouthguards and dental emergencies, please visit the Academy of General Dentistry's Web site, www.agd.org. The Academy also provides a free phone service to consumers across the nation in need of a dentist, providing the names of up to three general dentists in their area by calling 1-877-2X-A-YEAR (1-877-292-9327).