Teeth Care While Playing Sports: A Guide for Parents and Young Athletes

Playing sports is an excellent way for children to stay active, develop teamwork skills, and have fun. However, sports also come with the risk of dental injuries. 

At Upbeat Pediatric Dentistry, we understand the importance of protecting your child’s teeth while they enjoy their favorite activities. 

In this blog post, we’ll discuss common dental injuries in sports, preventive measures, and essential tips for maintaining excellent oral health for young athletes.

Common Dental Injuries in Sports

Sports can be tough on teeth. Here are some common dental injuries that can occur during physical activities:

1. Tooth Fractures

Tooth fractures can range from minor chips to severe breaks. They often occur from direct blows to the face or mouth during contact sports like football, basketball, or hockey.

2. Tooth Intrusion

Tooth intrusion happens when a tooth is pushed back into the jawbone. This type of injury is more common in younger children with softer bone structures.

3. Tooth Extrusion and Avulsion

Extrusion refers to a partially dislodged tooth, while avulsion is when a tooth is completely knocked out. Both injuries require immediate dental attention.

4. Soft Tissue Injuries

Cuts, bruises, and lacerations to the lips, cheeks, and tongue are common in sports and can be painful and prone to infection if not properly treated.

5. Jaw Fractures

A strong impact to the face can result in a fractured jaw, a serious injury that requires immediate medical attention and possible surgery.

Preventive Measures to Protect Teeth

Preventing dental injuries should be a priority for all young athletes. Here are some effective ways to protect your child’s teeth while they play sports:

1. Mouthguards

Mouthguards are the most effective way to prevent dental injuries. They cushion blows to the face, reducing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face, or jaw. There are three types of mouthguards:

  • Stock Mouthguards: Pre-formed and ready to wear. They are inexpensive but offer the least protection.
  • Boil and Bite Mouthguards: Made from thermoplastic material that softens when boiled and can be shaped to the teeth. These provide better protection than stock mouthguards.
  • Custom-Fit Mouthguards: Made by a dentist to fit precisely over the teeth. These offer the best protection and comfort.

2. Face Shields and Helmets

In sports where face and jaw injuries are common, such as hockey, football, and lacrosse, using helmets with face shields can provide additional protection.

3. Regular Dental Check-Ups

Regular visits to the dentist can help identify any potential issues before they become serious problems. Your dentist can also provide advice on the best mouthguard for your child’s specific needs.

4. Education and Awareness

Educating young athletes about the importance of dental protection and how to avoid injuries can make a significant difference. Encourage your child to wear their protective gear consistently and correctly.


What to Do in Case of a Dental Injury

Despite all precautions, accidents can still happen. Knowing what to do in case of a dental injury can make a significant difference in the outcome:

1. Stay Calm

It’s essential to remain calm and reassure your child. Panic can make the situation worse for both you and your child.

2. Assess the Injury

Check the extent of the injury. If a tooth is broken, knocked out, or there is severe pain, seek immediate dental attention.

3. Preserve a Knocked-Out Tooth

If a tooth is knocked out, try to find it. Hold the tooth by the crown (the part that is usually visible) and avoid touching the root. Rinse it gently with water if it’s dirty, but do not scrub or remove any tissue fragments. Try to reinsert the tooth into the socket if possible. If not, place it in a container of milk or saline solution and see a dentist immediately.

4. Pain Management

Use over-the-counter pain relievers to manage pain, and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling if necessary.

5. Follow-Up Care

Follow up with your child’s dentist to ensure proper healing and to address any long-term concerns resulting from the injury.


Caring for Your Child

By taking preventive measures and maintaining good oral hygiene, you can help your young athlete avoid dental injuries and keep their teeth healthy and strong. 

Remember, regular dental check-ups and the use of protective gear like mouthguards are essential for safeguarding your child’s oral health on and off the field.

If you have any questions about dental care for young athletes or need assistance with choosing the right protective gear, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team is here to provide the support and care your child needs to maintain a healthy, happy smile.