Meet the NHL Dentist Who Stitches Smiles During Stanley Cup Playoffs

Dentists and hockey players should go together like teeth and gums.

Perhaps no other group of athletes requires as much dental work as NHL players. Famous for their gapped-tooth grins and rub-some-dirt-on-it mentality, NHL players take the brunt of the battle, leaving everything - including their teeth - out on the ice.

Now with the Stanley Cup Playoffs underway, the game - and dental procedures - have had to step things up.

That's where Dr. Donald Goudy?, Jr., the official team dentist for the NHL's San Jose Sharks, comes in. Goudy provides emergency treatment for players who suffer a range of oral and other health injuries. In an average game, the dentist equips the athletes with crowns and prostheses, especially for the front of their mouths.

"Someone is injured every other game," Goudy told "But that includes everything - from getting hit in the foot with the puck to concussions. It runs the whole gamut."

Since most of the players, like Sharks center Joe Thornton, have several implants from getting their teeth knocked out, Goudy makes "breakaway" teeth that can easily be replaced when the inevitable happens again. With so much action on game day, he leaves cavity treatments and assessment of gingivitis among other oral health issues for another day.

"When I had the original set of implant teeth made to fit the implants, I had them make two sets because I knew eventually he'd knock out the first set," Goudy said of Thornton. "So in one game he got hit, spit his teeth out, and we jumped in my car immediately following the game and drove to my office. It took me 15 minutes to put his new set of teeth in because I already had them."

Dental office on ice

During games, Goudy treats players from both teams in a tiny office near the Sharks' training room, just big enough to fit a dental chair. The picture of hockey athletes spitting out bloody teeth to keep playing is clearly not far from the truth. But Goudy's top priority is to fix them up just enough so they can hop back on the ice.

"We bring them back, remove any loose pieces, numb them up, and they go back out," Goudy explained to the source.

Certainly, teeth falling out everywhere is not a dentist's dream. While Goudy and other dental professionals strive to help patients have healthy smiles, free of gingivitis, decay and yellowing, hockey player's teeth often end up in the Zamboni, the machine used to resurface the ice.

When a player is getting work done in the dental office, coaches sometimes peek around the corner, checking to see if he is ready to re-enter the game.

"They're rotating their lines so they need to know when that player is going to be back," Goudy said. "And if it's somebody like Logan Couture or Joe Thornton, they're hawking the room sometimes, they're so anxious to get them back."

Goudy, who has long been a hockey fan, used to go to Blackhawks games when he lived in Chicago and attended Northwestern University Dental School. He got his current job after the 2005 lockout when the previous dentist called it quits.

Today, Goudy attends every playoff game, but not in the stands like the other spectators. When a puck starts flying, players get ready to yell "goal" just as much as "Goudy!"

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