In the spring kids get active in youth sports and other outdoor activities again when the weather gets nice. These can result in dental injuries if children are not careful. According to the CDC, about 600,000 Americans will visit the emergency room every year for a dental injury that occurred while playing sports, and about $500 million will be spent replacing lost teeth. If your child plays sports, here are some things you should do to avoid a pediatric dental emergency.
When we think of high risk sports, we tend to think of contact sports, but many other activities can be dangerous to kids’ teeth. In fact, football may be the sport with the least number of dental injuries because football players have to wear much more protective gear to participate.
The types of injuries that kids suffer most often playing sports include: facial soft tissue injuries, facial bone fractures, TMJ injuries, crown and root fractures, and tooth loss. To avoid these we recommend taking the following precautions:
Wear a Helmet
So many injuries can be prevented by using a helmet. A fast moving basketball or hockey puck can cause tremendous damage in the blink of an eye. A helmet surrounds both the face and the skull and can prevent lacerations, bone breaks, and tooth loss. Adding a face shield provides additional protection, but just wearing a helmet can prevent a child from biting down hard during an unexpected impact. That kind of bite often results in tooth chipping or cracking.
Wear a Mouthguard
Some sports, like football, require both a helmet and a mouthguard. Others, like soccer, rely on mouthguard protection alone. People who understand the need to wear a helmet will often balk at using a mouthguard, unfortunately. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry reported that two-thirds of parents admit their children don’t use mouthguards. It’s so simple to wear one, though – and so effective! Wearing a mouthguard can mean the difference between a bruise and a knocked-out tooth.
One advantage of mouthguards is that they are quite affordable. Parents can find them at sporting goods stores or online. We recommend purchasing a mouthguard that has the American Dental Association seal of approval. These will meet a higher standard of mouth protection. Custom mouthguards are the best option of all, of course. They are more expensive, but of higher quality and more comfortable to wear.
Play by the Rules to Avoid Dental Injuries
The rules in sports are meant to be followed not just to ensure that games are played fairly, but for the safety of all the players. Aggressive play often results in avoidable injuries. Encouraging kids to play by the rules will keep them safer and also make the games more enjoyable for everyone involved.
If your child does suffer a tooth injury during a game, the most important thing to do is to try to keep them calm until you can survey the damage and contact a dentist. If they are bleeding, apply light pressure and use a cold compress. Keep the tooth moist in water or milk, but do not reinsert it. Reinserting a lost tooth can result in infection if the tooth is dirty, so before you take any action, call your dentist.
If you are in the West Michigan area, you can contact West Michigan Dental Associates at (616) 554-5970 for same-day dental care. Getting timely dental help will alleviate your child’s pain or dental trauma right away, so call us. We are here to help.