Jan 14 2020

Dress to Win: A Pediatric Dentist Talks About Mouth Injuries in Sports

kids playing soccer

As parents, we love to see our children having fun and trying new things! There’s hardly anything sweeter than watching your child run around the bases during their first tee-ball game or run up and down the soccer field. Not only is it exciting for us to watch, it’s both fun and healthy for them. Sports help kids develop physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.

Unfortunately, participation in athletics also comes with some risks to your child’s physical wellbeing—including their teeth. This shouldn’t stop you from allowing them to play! In this blog, Dr. Matt suggests practical ways to protect your child’s teeth during sporting events.

Tooth Injuries in Sports

Before we get to the “how,” let’s talk about why injury prevention is so important. Here are the most common types of tooth injuries in sports:

Knocked-out tooth

If your child loses a baby tooth during a sports game, it may seem like no big deal, but there could be serious consequences. The impact that made your child’s tooth fall out could also cause damage to the underlying nerves, tissue, or permanent tooth.

Cracked tooth

A cracked or fractured tooth could be a simple fix, but it can also lead to serious dental problems. You should take your child to the dentist immediately if he or she experiences these symptoms:

  • Sharp pain when biting
  • Tooth pain that comes and goes
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold foods

These symptoms arise because cracks and chips can expose the innermost part of the tooth. This requires immediate professional care.

Fractured Root

When the root of the tooth is cracked, it often spreads to the chewing surface of the tooth. This is usually not visible to the eye, and sometimes there aren’t any symptoms, until an infection develops. If this is the case, your child may need root canal therapy.

Prevention

Here are two of the best ways to protect your child’s teeth during an athletic event:

Get a custom mouthguard

The American Dental Association reported that of the 5 million teeth that are knocked out each year, 13-39% of them are a result of sports-related injuries. Mouthguards can help lower that percentage because they are essential to protecting your child’s teeth, mouth, and jaw during contact sports.

Most children don’t want to wear mouthguards because they are uncomfortable. To combat this, your dentist can create a custom mouthguard that fits your child’s mouth perfectly.

Another reason to have a mouthguard made is to prevent concussions. According to Science Daily, a custom-made mouthguard reduces an athlete’s risk of concussion by half.

Put on a helmet

Helmets help absorb the brunt of any sort of impact to the head. As a result, wearing a helmet protects children from head, jaw, and teeth injuries.

Your kid is most likely wearing a helmet during football or baseball games, but make sure he is wearing a helmet during practice too. While practice may not be as intense as games, there are still many chances for your child to be injured.

Encourage your child to wear a helmet while skateboarding, skiing, or snowboarding as well.

While helmets will help protect your child’s head and teeth, they aren’t nearly as beneficial as mouthguards. It’s best to give your child both a mouthguard and helmet to ensure he is as safe as possible.

Treatment

If your child does experience a dental injury, follow this protocol:

  • Call a pediatric dentist, like Dr. Matt, immediately
  • Place the tooth (whole or part) in a Ziplock bag with milk
  • Keep the milk and tooth cold
  • Bring to the dentist

Protect Your Child’s Teeth Every Day

Children’s teeth need to be protected and cared for every day through good oral hygiene, a healthy diet, and regular dental cleanings. Our pediatric dentist and dental team are passionate about helping your child achieve a healthy mouth because we love seeing happy children!  

Contact our friendly dental team today at 913-685-9990 to schedule your child’s cleaning and exam with Dr. Matt.

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