Something to smile about

Cosmetic Dentistry Derbyshire

Derbyshire cricket captain Luke Sutton and Derby County defender Michael Johnson have something in common - the same dentist and a set of pearly whites that have needed lots of TLC due to sporting injuries. Jill Gallone finds out how a Derby dentist managed to put the smile back on these sportsmen's faces.

Ever wondered what a cricket ball feels like when it smashes into your mouth at 80mph? Derbyshire cricket captain Luke Sutton knows - only too well.

In fact, until recently, he had the gap in his teeth to prove it. And, though the memory of that particular sporting incident is painful to recall, at least kind-hearted Luke (28), who is poised to climb Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, for charity later this week, can smile about it now.

"I'm a wicketkeeper and have to be close to the stumps," explains Luke - justifiably to a woman who doesn't even know what a googly is.

"The accident happened when the ball took an unexpected deflection off the batsman's shoulder and hit me in the mouth. It was like receiving a massive punch in the head. Really nasty. When a cricket ball hits you flush-on at 80mph you know about it."

Luke was badly shaken by the incident which occurred in 2000 during a match against Somerset.

"I came off the field and my lip was hanging down in front of me," says Luke. "I went straight to the Nuffield Hospital to have it sewn up. My tooth didn't fall out but x-rays showed that it was broken in the gum and, in time, it would have fallen out."

But, severe trauma aside, exemplary professional Luke headed straight back to the cricket ground after being patched up to continue the game. Afterwards came the time to contemplate what to do about the fact that one of his top front teeth was ruined.

"They tried to save the tooth by putting a rod through it but that failed, so I ended up having a denture. I'm a young man and it's not great having a denture. They feel quite uncomfortable and you have to be careful when eating things like an apple."

But Luke soldiered on until he heard about dentist Aneu Sood at Oakwood Dental Surgery, Bishop's Drive. He specialises in cutting-edge dentistry and is the official dentist for Derby County, tending to players if their teeth get damaged in a match.

Aneu had a better option for Luke - an implant, which has just been completed.

Aneu explains:

"An implant involves having a cylinder of surgical titanium implanted into the mouth. Titanium isn't rejected by the body and the bone knits and holds the cylinder in place. This process takes four to six months."

"You can then put the new tooth, which is expertly made to match your other teeth, on to the cylinder."

Not only is a well-fitted implant undetectable it also allows for much greater comfort.

"I got so used to wearing a denture plate it felt great to have a normal mouth again," said Luke, who learned a salutary lesson from his experience.

"I always wear a mouth guard now and a helmet with a full grid around it. Wicketkeeping is a dangerous occupation. Dental work is a lengthy process and if you can avoid it for the sake of wearing a gum shield then you should.

"The accident has made me look after my teeth more too. When you're young you think you are invincible but as you get older you wise up."

However, no matter how much you wise up, you can't predict what will happen in a spur-of-the-moment tackle on the soccer pitch.

And you certainly wouldn't relish the prospect of picking up your two top front teeth out of the mud after a violent clash, which is what happened to Rams defender Michael Johnson (31) just before Christmas. "It was more like a boxing match than a football match," joked jovial Michael, flashing a bright smile - and no gaps. I went up for a header and collided with Coventry City's centre forward. His elbow went straight into my teeth and I lost my my two top front teeth. I picked them up off the floor.

"I was bleeding really badly and the top line of my jaw was pushed back. It was really bad."

Dr Tony Taunk of Oakwood Dental Centre attends Rams games to deal with such eventualities and raced to Michael's side.

"Tony pulled my jaw back into place, rushed me up to the surgery and tried to save my teeth. He put splints on them but it didn't work.

"It's horrible. All of a sudden you have a smile and then you're in a mess. For a while you don't want to smile or talk."

Oakwood Dental Surgery quickly fixed Michael up with a temporary bridge - "so I could smile again and eat my Christmas dinner" - and now Michael is waiting to begin the lengthy process of having implants fitted.

"He can't have the implants yet because his gums are still healing," explains Aneu, who has been trained by, and works with, Raj Patel, one of the top implant surgeons in the country.

Michael can't wait for his implants: "I don't like wearing the plate (dentures). It's uncomfortable and affects the way your food tastes."

Like Luke, Michael was badly shaken up by the trauma suffered on the sports field but, as a defender who is not afraid of the physical aspects of the game, it is something he has had to get used too.

"My teeth took a bad knock a couple of years ago when I was playing for Birmingham," says Michael. "It's part and parcel of the game. You do expect to get knocks but you don't expect them to take your teeth out. Now I always wear a mouth guard."

That's vital, according to Aneu, who has treated several severe sporting injuries, including former Rams star Costa Candida's badly dented smile, which is now immaculate and gleaming again.

"A mouth guard is a classic way to prevent problems on the cricket or soccer field," says Aneu. "I'd advise all sportsmen, and parents whose children play contact sports, to ensure they wear a mouth guard."

Derby Evening Telegraph

 

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