Mouth Guards and Sports Injuries
May is National Oral Trauma Awareness Month and there is no better time to pause and think about the seriousness of injuries to face and specially the mouth. The popularity of youth sports and the competitive nature of them have resulted in a spike in incidence of trauma to the face and teeth. Sports related injuries account for 10-40% of dental injuries in children. Beyond the obvious “rough” sports, like football and hockey, those in any high impact or contact sports (soccer, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, skating) can benefit from protective mouthguards. In fact, sports related injuries peak between ages 7 and 11 years.
Research suggests significant consequences in children with orofacial trauma because of the pain and psychological effects on the child, and the economic burden on the families.
In 2005, the National Sports Safety Foundation estimated the cost of treatment for a single traumatized (avulsed) permanent front tooth to be $5000 (and $20k over the lifetime of that child). The psychological costs and hours of school missed are also significant. Majority of dental injuries affect upper front teeth and lip.
Injuries to the teeth can be put in three different groups:
This can be anything from broken tooth, root fracture or chipped tooth. If this happens the best thing to do is to try to stabilize the portion of the tooth that is still intact and then have them gently bite on a towel to control bleeding and the transport the child to a dentist as soon as possible. if there are any tooth fragments you should take it to the dentist as well. The best way to transport tooth fragments is cold milk and if not available saliva is the second best option.
This is when the entire tooth including the root falls out. Be careful not to touch the root and instead handle the tooth by the crown. Do not try to wash or even sterilize the tooth. If there is any dirt on it rinse it with water very gently. if it is possible try to put the tooth back in the socket and try to get your child to a dentist as soon as possible.
When the impact of a trauma displaces the teeth we call it luxation. Sometimes the tooth looks longer and at time shorter. Try to to put it back in place and see your dentist as soon as possible.
Mouthguards are coverings worn to protect teeth from grinding and sport injuries. Though not bullet proof, a custom mouthguard can be very effective in reduction of damage to teeth, lips, and gums by absorbing and dissipating the energy from the site of the impact. Contact your pediatric dentist and ask him about the different options you have and how your child can benefit from a mouthguard.