PROTECTING KIDS’ TEETH DURING SPORTS
Summer is here and with the warmer weather comes sports signups, jersey fittings, practices and game days. As fun and exciting as youth sports can be, protecting children from injury – especially when it comes to their teeth, jaws and head – is always a worry for parents and coaches. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry reports that there are 7 million sports injuries in children as young as 5 each year. Of course there is no way to ensure that no injuries will occur, but there are several ways to help protect children from potential injury as much as possible.
Wearing a mouth guard is required in some sports and recommended for most others. This is because research shows that you are 60 times more likely to experience a sports injury without a mouth guard compared to playing with one safely in place. Even though most children, especially teens, complain about having to wear one, be firm in your stance knowing that you are potentially saving your child from pain and possibly even long-term damage.
It’s not enough to just choose a random mouth guard and assume your child is protected, though. Ensuring a good fit is essential to truly protecting the teeth and jaws along with decreasing the risk of a concussion. The best option is a custom-fit mouth guard created by a dental professional that is not only more comfortable to wear but also protects the areas most vulnerable to injury. Most children and teens who complain about mouth guards find it much less annoying and “uncool” once they try a custom-made mouth guard that is less bulky and more form fitting.
Knowing what to do if an injury to the teeth occurs can make the difference between saving and losing that tooth permanently. First determine if the lost tooth is a baby tooth or an adult tooth. Primary teeth don’t usually need to be re-implanted, but permanent teeth are much more important to save. The first step is to locate the tooth, if possible. Try to keep a kit from the drug store in your sports bag that is made specifically for preserving a lost tooth until you can get to the dentist. If the athlete is old enough to safely avoid swallowing the tooth, rinse the tooth (if dirty) and re-implant into the socket on the way to the dentist. This provides the best chance for saving the tooth. As a last resort, the tooth can be placed in water or milk on the way to seek medical and dental care.
For any questions about what to do when a mouth injury occurs, call us at Pinnacle Oral Surgery Specialists at (469)264-8921.