Whether you play sports or your kids play sports, it’s important to know that there is a risk for dental injuries with these activities. Below we’ve listed out some helpful information so you can have a better understanding of the risks, as well as what you can do to take the appropriate precautions to prevent these injuries.
Dental Sports Injuries: A Few Quick Facts and Stats
- Dental injuries that are related to sports are common. For example, experts have reported that anywhere from 13% to 39% of all dental injuries are the result of patients being involved in sports. On top of that, roughly 80% of the injuries that dentists treat affect the upper front teeth, although damage to the cheeks and tongue are also seen often.
- Some of the more common dental injuries that are related to sports include tooth fractures. However, fully dislodged teeth, as well as loosened teeth, are also common. Extensive bleeding and pain could occur even in the case of a tooth fracture if the crack extends through the whole tooth. Ouch!
- Teenagers are prone to suffering from dental injuries that are related to the sports that they play. In fact, preteens and teens tend to exhibit the highest number of these dental injuries.
While these stats certainly shouldn’t dissuade you from playing your favorite sports with your friends, they might inspire you to take an extra step to keep your mouth safe.
Your Biggest Risk: Contact Sports
As you probably already guessed, contact sports will put you at greater risk of suffering from a serious dental injury. If you play any of the following sports, consider using a mouthguard to protect those chompers and keep them where they belong: in your mouth!
- Martial Arts
Even if a sport doesn’t require that you wear this protection, experts highly recommend wearing one as it can help protect your smile. After all, even a minor mouth injury could be painful and costly.
Safety Gear: A Must-Have Accessory
Wearing protective gear could help you reap all of the benefits that come with playing sports without risking the health of your teeth. The type of safety gear that you will need will depend upon the sport that you participate in.
Generally, helmets can help protect you if you are dealing with impact and speed (think: biking, skating, hockey, and football). They can protect your head, your eyes, and your mouth when they are designed well and fit properly.
As mentioned above, mouthguards could help protect your lips, tongue, and teeth, especially when they are custom fitted. And remember, they could be used for just about every sport, from football and basketball, to boxing and hockey.
Mouthguards: They Aren’t All Created Equal
Not keen on the idea of wearing a mouthguard? You might change your mind once you realize that the simple act of wearing one while you play could dramatically reduce your risk of getting hurt, regardless of the sport you prefer. The key, though, is to wear the right mouthguard, such as one that has been customized to fit your mouth perfectly.
Here is a basic breakdown of the most common types of mouthguards available:
- A ready-made mouthguard, also known as a stock mouthguard, is one that you can purchase already formed and ready to wear. While these products may be convenient, they typically are not the ideal choice. Oftentimes, one size does not fit all, so you will notice that the guard fits your mouth poorly. This translates to inadequate protection for your teeth. Ultimately, the mouthguard will not really do much to reduce your risk of injury.
- A boil-and-bite mouthguard is a step up from a stock mouthguard, and it could be your best option if you can’t get a customized guard. These are easy to find in sporting goods stores. All you have to do is put the product in some boiling water to soften the plastic. Once you bite down, the plastic will form a mold around your teeth. And if you don’t get the fit right the first time, you can do it again. Because this guard will fit your teeth more accurately, it could provide better protection.
- The best (but most expensive) option would be a custom mouthguard, as it will offer the highest level of defense. Your dentist can make this mouthguard for you, and he or she can ensure optimal protection and comfort, thanks to a perfect fit.
Got Hurt? See Your Dentist Right Away!
If you or someone you know is injured while playing a sport, knowing the steps to take during a dental emergency could help you remain calm until you are able to see a dentist. Rest assured that, whether a tooth is loose, cracked, or totally knocked out, there are steps that your dentist can take to make everything better again.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t get out there and enjoy your favorite activities, whether they’re aggressive contact sports or high-speed non-contact sports. Simply being aware of the risk of injuries to your mouth will help you take the appropriate safety precautions, and a little mouthguard can go a long way in protecting your beautiful smile.