Official Team Dentist of the LA Clippers
A Season in the Life of an NBA Team Dentist
Mark S. Laska, D.D.S.
Team Dentist, Los Angeles Clippers
As a professional sports team dentist, there are two requirements I think are critical: communication skills and flexibility.
The most important relationship I have is with the head trainer. Fortunately, the trainer I work with understands the value of good oral health. We communicate frequently and often wind up scheduling and rescheduling appointments due to changing practice schedules and other player obligations that pop up unexpectedly. It’s also important to have a good relationship with the other team physicians, particularly in the case of injuries, use of anesthesia and other situations that cross the line between dental and medical.
Being a professional team dentist isn’t all fun and games (pun intended!). I make myself available whenever needed — regular office hours don’t apply! For my situation, this means being present at all home games or making arrangements for someone else to be there. So, yes, that’s about 41 games per year, and now with the Clippers being a very good basketball team, hopefully playoff games, too. Most of the games are in the evenings and sometimes weekend afternoons. Fortunately, few injuries occur during games, but when they do, I provide emergency treatment to both the home and visiting teams. Once in a while, I may be called upon to treat a referee, as well. Due to my working relationship with the head trainer, I have a dedicated space for my emergency kit in the trainer’s room. I can treat some emergencies on site, but the majority of injuries will need to be treated at my office.
I try to see as many of the players as possible in the pre-season or off-season, if they’re available, for routine care such as hygiene, X-rays and restorative treatment. If referrals are needed, follow-through is critical to see that those appointments are scheduled. If other issues develop — with third molars for example — a decision needs to be made with the player whether to extract at that point or wait until the season is over.
And of course, I also try to fit as many players as possible with custom-made mouthguards. Not all players are willing, but I see more and more younger players wearing them. That’s good news! Whenever possible, I try to take impressions at my office. However, sometimes I set up in the trainer’s room and take impressions of all the players who want mouthguards, all at one time. Either way, I’ll usually come to the trainer’s room about an hour before the next game to do final fittings.
Being a professional sports team dentist certainly has its share of complexities, but getting to meet and help elite athletes, and often their families as well, makes “jumping through a few hoops” well worth it.
For more information on dental implants or on the services we offer feel free to contact our office and our staff will be more than happy to assist you.
Dr. Mark Laska of Mid Wilshire Dentistry is conveniently located the Mid Wilshire area of Los Angeles, CA. We’re proud to also help patients in the surrounding communities of Echo Park, Los Feliz, Hancock Park, Hollywood and West Hollywood, and we’re located next to the Metro Station so our office is easily accessible to residents of Downtown Los Angeles.