“I’ll kick your teeth in!” is a pretty common “threat” that can be heard on the playing field, but it’s a little too close for comfort. According to the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety, dental injuries are by far the most common of any facial injury. In fact, someone who plays sports is 60 times more likely to damage their teeth if they don’t wear a mouth guard. Dental injuries can lead to severe, permanent issues involving oral and dental structures.
There are many types of teeth injuries including fractures, avulsions and luxations. Fractures can be at the root, tooth or “just a chip.” If possible, collect the tooth pieces and carry them in milk or under the tongue to an emergency dentist. Avulsions are a fancy way of saying a tooth gets knocked out. Never touch it by the root, and place it back in the socket if possible while heading to an urgent care dentist. Luxations happen when the tooth gets knocked into the wrong position but is still attached.
Timing is Everything
Timing is critical in both sports and dental care. Some hardcore athletes will want to finish a game even with an injured tooth-don’t let them. You’ll get the best results and may only be able to save the tooth if you see a dentist or endodontist within two hours. Of course, preventing dental injuries is preferable and it starts with wearing a guard. These devices aren’t all created equally. A custom-fitted mouth guard, preferably provided by a dentist, offers the best protection.
Mouth guards don’t just protect the teeth-they’re also important in preventing concussions. If there’s any chance of impact or contact in a sport, guards are a smart idea. The ADA specifically recommends they be worn for acrobatics, basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, roller hockey, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting and wrestling.
The younger the child, the more they might moan about how uncomfortable a mouth guard is. Yes, it’ll take some getting used to, but a properly fitting mouth guard shouldn’t be uncomfortable. In fact, training with a mouth guard can even make athletes improve their breathing, allowing for more oxygenated blood. How’s that for a cool side benefit every athlete could use?
Jill Smith is a writer and researcher. She is the Director of Digital Content Marketing for Be Locally SEO where she enjoys helping clients expand and improve their businesses through articles, blogs, website content and more.