With the impending arrival of spring and nicer weather, comes an increase in outdoor activities including team sports and recreation with friends. This also means there’s an increased risk of tooth damage during physical contact sports and activities. Making a plan to protect your teeth from damage and knowing what to do in case of emergency helps you thoroughly enjoy the change in seasons while protecting your oral health and smile.
If you or your child participates in a team sport, a mouth guard is a good investment in oral protection. Few people worry about broken teeth until after it happens and even pro sports players are reluctant to wear them sometimes until they lose a tooth. You can’t regrow permanent teeth, so protection is the best course of action. Don’t wait until it’s too late, look into mouth guards now and find one that you or your child is comfortable wearing. Along with helping to prevent tooth loss or chipping, wearing a mouth guard also lowers the risk of mouth-related injuries to the tongue, lips, and other soft tissues.
Use a mouth guard that fits securely and protects your teeth, gums, and cheeks. If you can’t find anything in a store that fits probably, talk to your dental professional about having a custom mouth guard made. Clean the mouth guard regularly to prevent bacteria growth and plaque buildup, as it will be in direct contact with your teeth for extended periods. Take your mouth guard to your regular dental visits, so your dentist can examine it for any wear or damage.
For intensive contact sports including baseball, lacrosse, boxing, wrestling, football and hockey, proper face protection is a vital piece of gear. A mouth guard alone won’t be enough to protect your teeth from the trauma of contact with a ball, fist, stick, or puck and you want to protect your entire face from injury. Although some athletes complain that face protection limits their field of view, it’s a minor inconvenience compared to dealing with emergency dental work or other treatment.
Treating a chipped, lost or broken tooth
Despite the best intentions, accidents happen, and injuries occur that lead to a chipped, lost or broken tooth. For a chipped tooth, repair is possible using a cosmetic bonding procedure that quickly restores your smile and oral health. If an incident during sports or other physical activity does knock out a tooth, it’s still possible to save it and possibly have it re-implanted under the right conditions. For children, if the lost tooth is a baby tooth, reimplanting the tooth won’t work because that would interfere with the formation of the permanent tooth. You should consult with your dental professional to ensure that other teeth don’t crowd into the unexpectedly empty space.
If the tooth knocked out is a permanent tooth then quickly and calmly take these steps to help save the tooth:
- Pick up tooth by crown – Pick up and handle the tooth by the crown to reduce injury to the root.
- Rinse with water – If the tooth is dirty, rinse it gently with water but don’t wrap it in anything.
- Reposition in socket – If possible, reinsert the tooth in the socket because the sooner it’s replaced, the higher the chances of survival. Hold the tooth in place with fingers or by biting down.
- Keep tooth moist – When it’s not possible to put the tooth in the socket, place it in a glass of milk or water with a pinch of salt. Keeping the tooth moist improves the chances of survival.
- See a dental professional – Seek the help of a dental professional as soon as possible after losing a tooth. A tooth that’s kept moist can sometimes last for up to an hour, but the sooner you seek dental help, the more likely successful re-implantation can occur.
Protect teeth from the inside out
When you play an athletic sport and concentrate on eating a healthy diet, you’re helping the health of your whole body, including your teeth. Eating a balanced diet with the proper nutrients improves your overall health and helps maintain a beautiful smile. Physical activity leads to fluid loss so you should avoid rehydrating with sodas or sugary sports drinks as they can cause cavities and aren’t the proper nutrition for your body. Opt for water instead and eat healthy, energy-building snacks such as fruits, vegetables or cheese to keep your strength up. Playing sports and participating in outdoor activities aren’t the only things that can lead to chipped or broken teeth. Chewing on pen caps, pencils, and other hard, non-food items also weakens your teeth and can lead to teeth chipping or breaking, so it’s best to avoid such bad habits.
Should you suffer a dental injury during a sport or other physical activity, contact our offices immediately so we can assess the issue and start treatment. Protecting your teeth is the best form of prevention, but it’s important to be prepared in case of an accident.