Dr. Grant

Dr. Bao-Thy Grant, an oral surgeon, in the exam room at the Honda Center, home to the Anaheim Ducks. (Jay L. Clendenin, Los Angeles Times / December 28, 2013)

The doctor holds up a hand and says, "Wait." She turns away to rummage through a drawer, explaining: "I want to show you something."

It takes a moment to push aside the syringes and packets of gauze before she locates a small, white shard and cups it in her palm.

"Sometimes I save the broken teeth," she says.

Forty or so nights each winter, Dr. Bao-Thy Grant practices a different sort of medicine, setting up shop in a cramped room beneath the stands at Honda Center in Anaheim. She is the team oral surgeon for the Ducks.

Her patients arrive sweaty and out of breath, wearing helmets and skates. Maybe a flying puck has smashed them in the mouth. Maybe they need stitches for a high stick that has sliced open their cheek.

"We get some complex, deep lacerations that require deep sutures," she says. "You don't see that with an elderly woman who tripped taking out the trash."

This self-described "short Asian chick who knows nothing about hockey" administers to professional athletes who have unusually high thresholds for pain, yet she speaks to them in soothing tones as she cleans and numbs their wounds.

In the rough-and-tumble world of a violent sport, Grant sees herself as a mother figure, bugging the players to wear their mouth guards and wincing at every big hit on the ice. It makes her wonder: Why must they be so hard on each other?

"She certainly looks over us," defenseman Cam Fowler says. "You can tell that she doesn't like seeing us get injured."

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With the Ducks facing the Edmonton Oilers on a Sunday evening, Grant arrives an hour early. The arena's medical office, adjoining the locker room, is nothing like her private practice in Orange.

The room is narrow and brightly lighted with supply cabinets along the back wall and, closer to the door, a dentist's chair. The black rubber floor has seen its share of sweat and blood over the years.

Putting on gloves, she begins her pregame routine, using disinfectant to wipe the counters, the lights, the phone — anything that might carry germs.

"I'm always sanitizing," she says. "I like a controlled setting."

Ryan Getzlaf, the team's star center, offers another explanation: "I think that's how she calms her nerves."

Grant specializes in oral and maxillofacial surgery, so she is responsible for any injuries from the neck up. With more players wearing mouth guards these days, shattered teeth are less common, but there are still plenty of cuts and the occasional facial fracture.

Teemu Selanne, the veteran winger, took a high stick to the mouth in late October. Six weeks later, she still checks on the wound, stopping by the locker room as the players stretch.

"She wants to make sure that we're going to look pretty again," Selanne says.

With the game drawing near, there is just enough time to eat dinner in an arena lounge, drink a cup of hot green tea and do one more thing.

"I always say a prayer," Grant says. "I pray that no one gets hurt."