Accidents and injuries can (and do) happen when you least expect them. They can, for instance, happen while you are playing your favorite sport.
Dental injuries are fairly common in sports. In fact, in some sports, losing a teeth is often seen as rite of passage. But that does not necessarily mean that you should play haphazardly, with little or no regard for your safety or the safety of all other players.
And just like in preventing sprains, there are a few things that you can do to protect your teeth while playing a sport, whether you are a weekend warrior or an athlete trying to make your way up the ranks.
Protecting your teeth while playing
How do you prevent injuries in sports?
Although there is no way to completely eradicate injuries while playing sports, there are a few strategies that can be implemented to minimize the chances of a player getting injured.
For example, athletes should include dynamic warm-ups to prepare their bodies for the physical activity they are about to embark on. Knowing how to properly move can also help prevent a wide variety of accidents and injuries.
But what about protecting your teeth from getting fractured, knocked out, or suffering from other injuries?
It all boils down to wearing the right protective gear. What protective gear should you wear? That depends on the sport you are playing.
For sports like hockey, cycling, skating, and hockey, a helmet is your first line of defense against injuries to the head and the mouth. Make sure that you wear a helmet that is appropriate for the sport that you are playing. Your helmet should also fit your head properly.
The mouth guard is another essential protective gear used in a diverse number of sports, from boxing to basketball. A mouth guard offers protection not only for your teeth, but also for your lips and your tongue.
Ideally, you should go to a dentist to have a mouth guard fabricated for you. Custom-made mouth guards offer superior protection over store-bought or boil and bite mouth guards. However, wearing a boil and bite mouth guard is definitely better than not wearing anything at all.
What should you do if you suffer from a mouth injury?
Three of the most common dental injuries that require the immediate attention of an experienced emergency dentist are fractured, broken, and knocked-out teeth.
● If your tooth has been fractured:
The damage may not be always visible. In fact, your tooth may look okay. However, if your tooth hurts when consuming hot or cold drinks or upon releasing a bite, it is a sign that your tooth has been damaged. You will need to immediately book an appointment with your dentist.
● If your tooth has been broken:
The first thing you will need to do is to contain the bleeding.
Start by rinsing your mouth with warm water. After that, place gauze or a clean piece of clothing on the affected area until the bleeding stops. If the bleeding continues, you can contain the bleeding by swapping the gauze with a tea bag.
As for the swelling on your face, you can apply an ice pack to the affected area.
Upon reaching the dental office, your dentist will determine the severity of your injury in order to ascertain the appropriate type of treatment, which may include the use of filling materials or crowns or extraction.
● If your tooth has been knocked out:
You should only hold the knocked out tooth by its crown. If it is dirty, you may rinse it, but make sure to do this gently. Take note that you should not touch or rinse the root or remove the tissues attached to it.
Ideally, you should try replacing the tooth into its socket. If that is not possible, keep the tooth moist by placing it in a container containing milk or saliva.
Through advancements in modern dental techniques and prompt action, the tooth may be placed back into its original place and be saved.
Some dental injuries are not readily apparent
The effects of injuries like fractured roots, cracks, and teeth intrusion may not be readily apparent. As such, some athletes may attribute the symptoms they are experiencing to other causes.
Here, it is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to rule out other causes and prevent long-term damage to your teeth.
Dr. Michael Letham is the owner and dentist at 24/7 Dental and Bayside Smiles. He graduated from Sydney University in 2000 with Honours, receiving the R Morse Withycombe Prize for Proficiency in Clinical Periodontics (gum treatment). Striving to provide a modern, holistic approach to dental care that is tailored to each individual’s requirements, Mike’s focus is on being thorough and meticulous whilst being caring and compassionate.