According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s policy on the Prevention of sports-related orofacial injuries, sports mishaps account for 10–39% of all dental injuries in children. 

As parents, our main goals are to keep our children healthy and safe. This is especially true during high-risk activities they may participate in like hockey, soccer and football.

When it comes to protective equipment, parents might only think of helmets, shin guards, chest protectors etc. Dental protection is often overlooked but it’s just as important as all of the other equipment your child wears! We want to make sure that you’re taking the right precautions to ensure your child’s smile will be strong and healthy in the future! 

The Importance of Protecting Teeth in Sports 

Even though children’s sports activities are fun and exhilarating, they can have potential for dental injuries. The most common dental injuries in children’s sports would be chipped teeth, fractured teeth, knocked-out teeth and sometimes even jaw injuries. These incidents above can be the most common in any sport that has any contact. Some examples would be football, hockey and basketball. However, it’s important to note that non-contact sports can also cause dental injuries like skateboarding, biking, scootering and more. 

If any of these injuries occur and they aren’t handled properly, it can lead to permanent tooth loss. If your child has a chipped or broken tooth, they might need some dental work that could include crowns, root canal therapy as soon as possible. If left untreated, long-term effects can include misalignment of the teeth which may lead to your child needing orthodontic treatment and potential issues with speech and eating.

Preventative Measures

The best method for dental treatment is being proactive in preventative care. This is the best way to mitigate the risk of dental injuries in sports. 

The best protective equipment to protect your child’s teeth is a mouthguard. There are three different types of mouthguards that you can choose from: stock, boil & bite and a custom-fitted mouthguard.

Stock Mouthguard:

Stock mouthguards are already pre-formed and ready to wear by the child. This type of mouthguard may be uncomfortable for the child since it’s not customized to the child’s mouth.

Boil & Bite Mouthguard:

A boil-and-bite mouthguard offers a better fit than the stock one. This mouthguard can be moulded to the child’s mouth and at home by simply boiling it.

Custom Mouthguard:

Although the other options are good, getting your child a custom mouthguard is the best option. It will fit your child’s mouth perfectly and they offer superior protection and comfort. 

Helmets and faceguards are another great piece of protective equipment. These are mandatory in contact sports like hockey and football but helmets and faceguards would be beneficial in all sports, especially biking and scootering. The best kind of helmet is having a full-face helmet. This would be the most ideal since the front guard will protect their jaw and teeth. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that the helmet is fitted properly to increase its effectiveness.

Another great preventative measure is to always go to Downtown Sleep Dentistry & Oral Surgery for your regular dental checkups and cleanings. By going to the dentist every 6 months, it can play a significant role in your child’s oral health. Our dentists can identify any dental issues that might have happened, they can ensure that any minor issues can be caught early before they become significant. 

Emergency Response to Dental Injuries

Even by having the best protective equipment and taking extra precautions to protect your child’s teeth, accidents can still happen. Knowing what to do next if an accident does happen can make a significant difference in the outcome of a dental injury! 

Knocked Tooth:

If a tooth is knocked out, it’s vital to be quick. The steps are to locate the tooth and only handle it by the crown, which is the visible part in the mouth and not by the roots. Once you have found the tooth and held it by the crown, rinse the tooth with water if it’s dirty and avoid scrubbing it with a cloth. You can try reinserting the tooth into the socket in the mouth if possible and have your child hold it in place. If you cannot reinsert the tooth back into the socket, place it in a cup of milk or saliva and go to a dentist immediately. The first 30 minutes are the highest chance to save the tooth.

Chipped Tooth: 

For a chipped or broken tooth, you will want to rinse your child’s mouth with warm water and apply a cold cloth to reduce the swelling. You will also want to collect any chipped pieces of the tooth and see a dentist right away.

If either of these accidents has happened, it’s vital to head to a dentist to receive emergency treatment and have a follow-up. This follow-up will ensure the dentist can monitor the mouth for any infections, ensuring proper healing and restoring the tooth to its normal state.

How to Encourage Your Child to Use Protective Gear?

Getting your child to wear protective equipment can be a hassle since it’s not considered “cool”. However, it’s important to educate your children on protecting their body, brain and teeth when starting sports. This can help them understand the potential risks that can occur if they don’t use protective equipment. A good starting point to motivate your child is to tell them that all professional athletes wear protective equipment! 

To conclude, having your child wear protective gear when playing sports protects their body and smile. Understanding the risks, taking preventative measures, and adapting to different dental emergencies can ensure that your child stays safe while still having fun playing sports without compromising their dental health.

Schedule an appointment at Downtown Sleep Dentistry & Oral Surgery to discuss the best options to protect their pearly white smile. Remember that a healthy and white smile can contribute to the health and confidence of your young athlete.