Play it Safe! Dental Sports Safety Tips for Student Athletes and Parents
Most of the gear used in sports is geared toward preventing injury, but an often overlooked important safety precaution is the protection of the teeth and gums during sports.
About 5 million teeth are avulsed (knocked out) every year, most commonly from sports related injuries. It is estimated that up to 39% of dental injuries occur during sporting activities.
When gearing up for sports this school year, whether it is football, soccer or baseball- follow these important steps to protect your kids’ teeth.
Make Sure Teeth are Healthy to Begin With
Damaged teeth are much easier to fracture or injure than healthy teeth. A visit to the dentist for a professional cleaning and exam can detect problems early and repair damage such as tooth decay before teeth become seriously diseased and weakened. In addition, dental pain caused by tooth decay can distract a student athlete, causing them to lose focus and be more susceptible to an injury.
Wear Protective Gear (Even During Practice)
Helmets, pads and mouth guards should be worn at all times, even during practice, to help prevent injury. These preventive measures have a direct impact on lowering the frequency of sports related accidents and injuries.
Dental Mouth Guard Facts
Not all dental mouth guards are created equally. Most ‘do it yourself’ mouth guard kits do offer some level of protection, but can be bulky, uncomfortable and not a perfect fit. These problems reduce compliance and often prevent kids from wearing them.
A custom fitted dental mouthguard is your best bet. Even in a non-contact sport, mouth guards are important because they can prevent tooth damage from teeth grinding which many athletes do while on the field.
The American Dental Association estimated that over 200,000 dental injuries are prevented each year through the use of properly fitted mouth guards. Mouth guards protect against avulsed teeth, chipped or fractured teeth as well as soft tissue injuries. They can even help reduce the incidence of concussion.
Dental First Aid
In the event of a dental injury, it is important to know what to do to appropriately respond to the injury. The American Dental Association offers specific instructions for dealing with an avulsed (knocked out) tooth.
Step One: Find the tooth and clean it gently using clean water or saline. Be careful not to touch the tooth root or to remove any tissue fragments which may still be attached. Never scrub the surface of an avulsed tooth.
Step Two: Re-insert the tooth in the socket, if possible. Bite down on a piece of gauze in order to help keep the re-inserted tooth in place.
Step Three: If the tooth cannot be re-inserted, keep it moist and protected, submerged in milk or saline.
Step Four: See your dentist immediately. Your dentist may be able to replant the avulsed tooth in the socket. Success for this treatment declines rapidly, and the chance of success nearly evaporates after about two hours or separation. Even with immediate dental treatment, the body may reject the re-implanted tooth as a foreign object.
For more information about preventing sports related dental injuries, or to schedule yourself or your child for a pre-sports dental check-up, contact A+ Dental of Carrollton.