Play it safe: Prevent dental injuries
We would like to remind parents and young athletes to play it safe as you prepare for winter sport activities.
The mouth and face can easily be injured if proper precautions are not used during sports or recreational activities. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, more than seven million sports and recreation-related injuries occur each year, and more than half of those injuries are sustained by youth ages 5-24.
In addition, the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation estimated more than three million teeth would be knocked out in youth sporting events in the U.S. in 2012. This same group reported that athletes who do not wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth. Unfortunately, a large number of children do not wear mouthguards. In fact, 67 percent of parents surveyed admitted their children do not wear a mouthguard during organized sports, according to a survey by the American Association of Orthodontists. The American Dental Association estimates that mouth guards prevent more than 200,000 injuries each year.
Parents and coaches are urged to be proactive to keep children safe. Here are important tips to remember:
- A mouthguard may be one of the least expensive pieces of sports equipment available, and it will do double duty to help protect teeth and the jaw as well. Dentists can make custom mouthguards, which provide the best fit, and can often be made in team colors. Other options include the “boil and bite” mouth guards or stock mouthguards. Parents are encouraged to bring their child in for a consultation with a dentist to determine the best option for their child’s particular needs.
- All youth should wear a mouthguard if they participate in contact sports where a fall or collision could occur. Such sports include baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, gymnastics, basketball, skateboarding, football, karate and hockey.
- Wear a helmet during sports to absorb the energy of an impact and to help prevent damage to the head.
- Wear protective eyewear and face shields.
Accidents can happen no matter how cautious we might be. In the unfortunate circumstance that a tooth is cracked or knocked out, knowing what to do in an emergency can be the difference between saving and losing a tooth. Here are some tips for dental emergencies:
- For a knocked-out permanent tooth: Keep the tooth moist by placing it between your cheek and gums, or placing it in milk. Then, get to a dentist’s office right away.
- For a cracked tooth: Immediately rinse the mouth with warm water to clean the area. Put a cold compress on your face in the affected area to help keep swelling down. Then, call your dentist to help assess the level of dental emergency. Try to recover and keep any broken tooth pieces and bring them along to your dental visit.
- For a bite to the tongue or lip: Clean the area gently with water and apply a cold compress. If the bite resulted in a deep cut, it may be necessary to visit urgent care or an emergency room as soon as possible.
- If you are ever in doubt about what to do during a dental emergency, call and visit your dentist, urgent care or an emergency room to have things checked out.
Visit your dentist for advice on a properly fitted mouthguard. Good oral health habits and proper safety measures can help you keep smiling all year long.