From teaching essential life skills to encouraging teamwork, sports have many benefits for kids! While your young athletes are out on the field, you want to make sure their winning smiles are protected. The risk of a ball or body part hitting someone in the mouth is always there in sports, regardless of the age of the athletes. If your child has braces, a retainer, or clear aligners, they need adequate protection to avoid injuries and permanent mouth damage.
Thacker Orthodontics wants to keep your kids safe while they’re out on the field. Our team is prepared for any pit-stop your young superstars need. Whether it’s cut lips or a broken appliance, we want to help with any sports-related mouth injuries. The solution for many sports-related injuries can be as simple as using the right protective mouth gear.
Sports and Dental Injuries
Here’s something to chew on: 40% of all dental injuries in the United States are sports-related. You may expect mouth injuries in sports with lots of high-speed contact and collisions. However, sports-related accidents can happen regardless of the game! A fall during a solo sport like skateboarding can result in a chipped tooth or broken bracket.
Young patients who visit Thacker Orthodontics can continue to play their favorite sports even during treatment. However, it’s crucial to check your child’s appliances if you have an accident while playing. If the appliances look damaged or any teeth are loose or damaged, schedule an appointment for repair as soon as you can.
Our goal is to provide your child with early treatment and a quick assessment. The most common injury we see is tooth fractures, also known as a “chipped tooth.” We also see soft tissue lacerations or cuts on the gums, tongue, or cheeks due to a direct impact on the area. While we check for these types of injuries, we examine the motion of your child’s jaw to address any jaw dislocation. Some patients may experience more severe oral health injuries. A tooth can be displaced but still in the socket or even an avulsion in which the tooth becomes wholly dislocated.
Sports-Related Mouth Protection
According to a survey from the American Association of Orthodontists, 99% of parents with children playing organized sports believe mouthguards should be required to play. Despite this, close to 40% of those parents claim their children never wear one for practice or games.
It can be tricky to help your child get into the habit of keeping a mouthguard on before a game. Still, it is one of the more inexpensive ways to protect your child’s teeth, tongue, gums, and cheeks from trauma during their extra-curricular activities.
Orofacial injuries are a risk for participants of all ages, genders, and skill levels. Whether it’s organized and unorganized sports, at recreational and competitive levels, at school, or in kids’ leagues. Most dental injuries are sustained during collision and contact sports, but they are prevalent in limited-contact, non-contact, and high-velocity activities as well.
The American Dental Association recommends the use of a properly fitting mouthguard in the following activities:
- Combat Sports
- Hockey (Ice and Field)
- Martial Arts
- Water Polo
Limited Contact and Other Sports
- Equestrian Events
- Field Events
- Inline Skating
Choosing and Caring for your Mouthguards
There are many different options available for mouthguards. According to the ADA Council of Scientific Affairs and Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention, an ideal mouthguard should:
- Be relatively easy to clean
- Be physiologically compatible with the wearer
- Be adequately fitted to the wearer’s mouth and accurately adapted to their oral structures
- Be made of resilient material approved by the FDA and cover all remaining teeth on one arch
- Stay in place comfortably and securely
- Have high-impact energy absorption to reduce or limit transmitted forces upon impact
If your athlete is currently receiving orthodontic treatment, speak with one of our orthodontists. We will ensure the mouthguard fits over their appliances and won’t damage the device or harm their mouth if an impact occurs.
Your child will know they have a good fit if it’s comfortable, offers adequate coverage, and doesn’t interfere with speaking or breathing. The three most common types of mouthguards are stock (also called “pre-made”), custom-made, and mouth-formed. Let’s take a look at each of these options:
Also known as “pre-made,” this is the most popular type of mouthguard. They are widely available and you’re likely to find them in a sporting goods store. These mouthguards come in various sizes and colors to suit a variety of mouths. We recommend that our patients in active treatment wear Shock Doctor orthodontic specific mouthguards. This particular mouthguard is most effective because it provides adequate protection from trauma while still allowing for tooth movement according to your treatment plan.
Custom mouthguards are made in an orthodontic lab from individual patient impressions. Our team uses thermoforming techniques to make them fully customized and provide wearers with the best fit to adapt to their mouths. This is often the most expensive option for oral protection, but the balanced occlusion and maximized tooth contact significantly reduce the risk of the mouthguard becoming displaced while playing sports.
Also called “boil-and-bite,” these mouthguards are warmed in water briefly to become permeable and then cooled. Once the cooling is done, they are placed in the mouth and bitten down to create a customized fitting. These can usually be found in sporting goods stores or online. Follow all the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure adequate heating and molding of the thermoplastic material.
If you are currently in active orthodontic treatment, you should NEVER use a “boil-and-bite” style mouthguard as it can become fixed to your appliances and could require your dentist or orthodontist to remove them. That can be a scary, and costly, experience that is best avoided by using an appropriate mouthguard for your unique mouth.
When your athlete has their first sports-related dental injury, we want you to be ready. Remember to stay calm and carefully examine and take note of the damage to be explained to the dental professional. Contact Dr. Jim and Dr. MaryEvan for instructions on mitigating the injury until they see you in the office. Let’s take a look at some of the most common injuries we see and how to handle them.
If the tooth looks shorter than usual, it may have been pushed into the bone and become intruded. This can be a painful experience and requires an immediate visit to an emergency dentist. Do not attempt to pull the tooth out.
If the whole tooth comes out of your child’s socket, do not touch the roots and pick the tooth up by the crown. Gently rinse it in water and place the tooth back into the socket it came from, gently biting down on a towel to hold it in place as you head to the emergency dentist. A tooth can be permanently saved if it’s placed back into the socket within five minutes of ejection.
This experience can seem more frightening than the reality of it. To stabilize the broken or chipped tooth and control any bleeding, your child can bite gently on a towel as you take them to the dentist. If the tooth piece has come out of their mouth completely, it can be transported in milk, under their tongue, or wrapped in saline-soaked gauze.
Extruded or Laterally Displaced Tooth
When this injury occurs, it will look like a tooth is longer than usual. It often appears with the displaced tooth being pushed back or pulled forward. To reposition this tooth, place firm but precise pressure on it. This process can be painful and is best performed by a dental professional.
While these are the most common dental emergencies children have in sports, they are not the only possibilities. Make sure you get to your dentist as soon as possible after an injury. Your dentist or orthodontist can remedy many mouth injuries caught in the first couple of hours without permanent damage. Check if your child develops a fever, has trouble breathing or swallowing, or their bleeding doesn’t stop after about ten minutes of pressure. This could be a more serious problem, and you should go to the closest emergency room.
Treat your smile right at Thacker Orthodontics
You deserve to have the best smile all the time. At Thacker Orthodontics, we want your orthodontic treatment to be as smooth, satisfying, and stress-free as possible. Dr. Jim and Dr. MaryEvan have years of experience to give you the results you want. If you or someone you love is interested in getting treatment, get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation. Excellent orthodontic care is only a few minutes from your home, work, or school with our offices in Hillsboro and Cincinnati. There’s never been a better time!