YOU often hear how ‘fine margins’ or ‘small details’ make the difference when it comes to elite sport.

That can tend to refer to tactical tweaks or key moments in a game going your way.

But it also involves preparation and things as a fan you would never see, or perhaps even think about.

At AFC Bournemouth, that includes having an official dentist as a partner.

(Image: Dental on the Banks)

Dental on the Banks, based in Canford Cliffs, Poole, have been associated with the club for the past three years, after discussions with the club’s former doctor, Craig Roberts.

The practice opened in 2019, at the former site of a NatWest bank branch, in Haven Road.

But what exactly does being the ‘official dentist’ of a football club entail?

Rachel Miller, business manager at Dental on the Banks, explained to the Daily Echo: “I used to run a practice up in Manchester and we used to have the same with Man United, so it is actually more common than you’d think, I just don’t think it’s that well publicised, to be honest.

“We are the official dentist for AFC Bournemouth.

“They were looking for somebody to help, because before each season starts, all the players have to be dentally screened.

“So they would always outsource somebody to come in for that.

“We were in discussions with them, that was agreed and then basically the way that it works between us is we’re a sponsor for them, but rather than paying for that sponsorship, we give them the dental services.”

Pre-season is not just about running and building up physical stats.

Dental on the Banks will this week head to Vitality Stadium to check over the players, after they returned from their summer breaks.

(Image: Dental on the Banks)

Dr Ramtin Taheri, a specialist orthodontist at the practice, said: “On the day we have about 10 or 15 minutes with each player.

“They come in, usually in groups of two.

“We do a quick check to see what the health of the teeth are like, we take a quick scan of the teeth with a digital scanner and each season we will prepare a trauma tray.

“So in case there is an injury to a tooth, on the field for example, they can put the tray in to reposition the tooth there and then.”

(Image: Dental on the Banks)

Discussing further the ‘trauma management’ in place during matchdays, Taheri explained: “We’re at the games in case there are any issues, so we’re prepared.

“There is a dentist pack that contains two parts. One is for the doctors and physios, bits that they can use, in case there is trauma on the field. If there is a tooth that needs to be repositioned for example, they can do it, theoretically, even if we’re not there.

“Then there’s also a dentist pack in there, which has injections and medications, for us.

“So if we’re at the games, they’ll call us, we’ll go down and we can sort it out straightaway.

“Repositioning a tooth immediately, they have a much better success rate in terms of long-term prognosis.

“Thankfully we haven’t had any traumas yet, so the whole thing is sort of moot right now.

“But we are there at the games, in case something is needed.

“Bournemouth are probably one of the few teams in the Premier League that have this whole dental side of the pre-season screening and things like that. I think it’s pretty interesting.”

(Image: Dental on the Banks)

But the care is not only available when players are at Vitality Stadium, something Taheri outlined when discussing the main benefits of the partnership.

He said: “I think there are two advantages. One is to prevent players missing games during the season as a result of tooth problems.

“Also, even if they don’t have serious tooth problems that stops them from playing, even a small niggle will affect their performance generally, because of the high level they perform at.

“There are studies that show seven per cent of players feel dental issues affect their performance.

“The second thing, which thankfully hasn’t happened yet, is if they do have a trauma at the game.

“For example, before each game when they play away, we liaise with local dentists in the area.

“So in case something happens, as soon as they contact us, we have a dentist that we contact straightaway that can meet them at the dental practice in the locality, to sort out any immediate trauma before we’re able to see them for a long-term solution.”

Dental on the Banks are also called upon when Cherries sign a player.

Striker Jebbison undergoing medical ahead of move to Cherries

(Image: Dental on the Banks)

“If a new player comes in for a transfer, we’ll just go in on the day that they do the medical testing, 10 minutes with them and create a risk profile for the doctors, telling them what the chance of something happening is during the season,” explained Taheri.

“If it’s a high chance, we’ll see them ideally as soon as possible.

“If it’s a low risk, we’ll leave it for them to contact us, or their player liaison to contact us to arrange it at some point during the season.”

One treatment Cherries’ players will often take up is Invisalign, a discreet orthodontic treatment system that can straighten the teeth.

Dental on the Banks boasts two of the top 300 Invisalign specialists in the world.

(Image: Dental on the Banks)

Taheri said: “The only time players come to us at the practice is if we find risk factors, like if they have a high chance of cavities developing and things like that, then we will bring them in.

“Otherwise they’ll come to us for aesthetic things.

“A very popular treatment with the guys is Invisalign. Most of the team has them.”

Asked if being a partner with Cherries has seen an uptick in business, Taheri said: “It definitely has.

“You find, especially the younger patients, if they come in and one of the footballers might be here, they find that really cool.

“We definitely have had more exposure as a result.

“Bournemouth announces the partnership every season. We definitely get patients come in because they know of us from that link.

“We are on the big advertising boards at every game, so that is hard to miss!

“So we have had an increase in patients since the players started coming, definitely.”