How to Protect Those Pearly Whites from Sports Tooth Injuries
Protect your child from sports tooth injuries.
Kids learn a lot from team sports, like teamwork, discipline, and sportsmanship. But did you know that tooth injuries from sports are more common than most parents realize?
For many professional athletes, losing a tooth during the game might be considered a rite of passage. However, if you are a parent with a child athlete, we know you want to take every precaution to protect those pearly whites. Not only is it significantly expensive to replace a tooth (mouthpieces are much cheaper), but sports-related tooth injuries can have long-lasting consequences on your child’s oral development.
Many youngsters love sports, and parents love them just as much. Participating in childhood sports is excellent for a child’s physical health, and self-esteem is also a perfect way for kids to burn off excess energy. Let us not forget that childhood sports are fun for both players and spectators alike.
Despite the fun that comes with sports, these very same activities can subject your child to a dental injury. If your child does not wear a mouthpiece or mouth guard, it can lead to exacerbated injuries.
Check out this list of risks that your child may face if they are not wearing a proper dental mouthpiece.
Fractured teeth are a common sports-related tooth injury.
Broken or cracked teeth frequently happen in sports when a child sustains a blow to the face. These injuries are common in all childhood sports, especially football, hockey, gymnastics, and basketball, but they can happen in other sports as well. Players who don’t wear a mouth guard are at a significantly higher risk of tooth injury.
Common symptoms that your child has a cracked or fractured tooth include:
- Sharp pain when the child bites down on food
- Intermittent tooth pain
- Discomfort when eating or drinking, especially with cold or hot foods
- A loss of the tooth’s outer enamel shell, which exposes the tooth’s dentin and pulp
A broken tooth isn’t always visible to the naked eye, and parents might not even realize their child has sustained a broken tooth until sometime after the initial injury. In some cases, broken children’s teeth aren’t identified until your child’s next visit to their family dentist.
Jaw injuries are common tooth injuries from sports.
Jaw injuries are common injuries sustained by children when playing sports. Dr. Reimer and the team at Pediatric Dental Specialists in Omaha, Nebraska, highly recommend that children wear a mouth guard while playing sports. These oral devices can reduce the severity of a jaw injury by reducing the amount of shock and providing a cushion if the upper and lower jaw sustain a hit.
Parents should be aware of the risk of concussions during sports.
You might be wondering what place a concussion has in the list of tooth injuries from sports. However, concussions, which are traumatic brain injuries caused by a blow, jolt, or bump to the head, are common in childhood sports. Any action that causes the head and brain to move back and forth rapidly can cause a concussion. Thankfully, not only can a mouth guard help protect your child athlete from a fractured tooth or jaw injury, but it can also lessen the impact of a concussion.
Tooth injuries from sports can cause lip and cheek lacerations.
This should come as no surprise, as most parents have experienced a lip or cheek laceration at some point during their childhood or adult life. Ever bitten your cheek on accident or bumped yourself in the head and bit your lip? These injuries occur far more often than we might recognize. And tooth injuries from sports often cause these lacerations as well. As is the case with preventing tooth fractures and jaw injuries, mouth guards can also protect the soft tissues in your child’s mouth, preventing an accidental bite during play or in the event of an accident.
What to Do in the Event of a Sports-Related Dental Injury
If your child has or you suspect they have a broken or cracked tooth or a jaw injury, you must seek prompt dental attention. Serious jaw injuries can require surgery and general anesthetic. In severe cases, these injuries can require hospitalization and wiring of the jaw to keep it closed long enough for the wound to heal. The truth is we won’t be able to determine the treatment for your child without the ability to assess their tooth injury directly.
What to Do If Your Child Has a Knocked-Out Tooth Injury From Sports
With the above said, we must emphasize the need to seek prompt emergency dental attention, especially if there is a knocked-out tooth. If your child has experienced a knocked-out tooth and you can find the tooth, avoid handling the tooth by the root. Also, do not make an attempt to brush, scrub, or sterilize the tooth.
If debris has gathered on the tooth, rinse the tooth with water very gently, then try to reimplant it in the empty socket in your child’s mouth. Have your child stabilize the tooth by gently biting down on a clean towel. Do not attempt this if your child athlete is unconscious or otherwise not alert.
If you cannot reimplant the tooth, the best option is to place the tooth in milk or wrap it in saline-soaked gauze. For older children where choking is not a risk, you can have the child tuck the tooth under their tongue until you can get them to an emergency dentist. The most important message here is to get your child to a dentist quickly, as timing is essential. Teeth that are reimplanted within 30 minutes of the loss have the highest rate of success.
Contact Pediatric Dental Specialists if your child has sustained a tooth injury during sports.
If your child has experienced a sports-related dental emergency and is in the Omaha area, we can help you get the help you need. Our pediatric dental team is ready to help you and your child if an unfortunate sports-related dental injury occurs. Contact us at (402) 397-3377 or schedule an appointment by completing the Contact Us form on our website.