Sports provide a variety of benefits for kids. From encouraging exercise in a fun and educational environment to developing social motor skills and teaching important life skills like time management, dedication, and teamwork. While your kids are out on the field, you want to make sure their smiles are safe. It’s important to understand sports safety for kids’ mouths and what to do during orthodontic emergencies.
The risk of a ball or body part to the mouth is always there in sports, regardless of the age of the athletes. You want to see your child smiling when they land a goal or score a basket, and you don’t want one misfire to prevent that. If your child has braces, a retainer, or clear aligners, they need adequate protection to avoid injuries and permanent mouth damage.
Farrow & Dewbre Orthodontics wants your kids to stay safe on the field and keep you prepared for any emergency that may happen. The solution to most orthodontic injuries during sports can be as simple as using protective gear.
Sports and Dental Injuries
40% of all dental injuries in the United States are sports-related. Your child may expect mouth injuries in sports with lots of high-speed contact and collision. However, sports-related accidents can happen regardless of what the athletes are playing. A fall in a solo sport like skateboarding can result in a chipped tooth or broken bracket.
Young patients at Farrow & Dewbre Orthodontics can continue to play sports even during treatment. However, it’s important to check your child’s appliances immediately if you have an accident while playing. If the appliances look damaged or your child’s teeth are loose or falling, schedule an appointment for repair as soon as possible.
Early treatment and a quick assessment is our primary goal. The most common injuries we see are tooth fractures, commonly referred to as a “chipped tooth,” and soft tissue lacerations or cuts on the gums, tongue, or cheeks due to direct impact to or with the area. As 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 such as luxation. 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. However, close to 40% of those parents said their children never wear one for practice or games.
If your child isn’t already used to wearing one, it can be hard to help them start and get into the habit of keeping it on before a game. Still, it is one of the less costly 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, there is always a risk for injury. While most dental injuries are sustained during collision and contact sports, they are prevalent in limited-contact, non-contact, and high-velocity activities.
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
Mouthguards come in many different options. According to the ADA Council of Scientific Affairs and Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention, an ideal mouthguard should:
- 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
- Have high-impact energy absorption to reduce or limit transmitted forces upon impact
- Stay in place comfortably and securely
- Be physiologically compatible with the wearer
- Be relatively easy to clean
If your child is undergoing orthodontic treatment, consult with one of our orthodontists to ensure the mouthguard will fit over their appliances and not damage the device or harm your child’s mouth if an impact occurs.
Your child will know you 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 closer look at each of these options:
Also referred to as “pre-made,” this option is the most common mouthguard due to availability. These mouthguards come in various sizes and colors to suit as many wearers as possible. However, the stock mouthguard is considered the least effective option because it has a generic design that is not one-size-fits-all for every mouth. This gives it an improper fit and requires the mouth to be shut to keep it in place. You are likely to find it in a sporting goods store.
Custom mouthguards are made in a dental office or orthodontic lab from individual patient impressions using thermoforming techniques. They are fully customized and provide wearers with the best fit to adapt to your mouth. 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 known as “boil-and-bite,” these mouthguards are designed to be warmed in water briefly to become permeable and then cooled slightly to be placed in the mouth and bitten down onto creating a customized fitting. These can usually be found in sporting goods stores or online. A dental professional may help facilitate the proper forming around dental appliances in some cases. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions precisely to ensure adequate heating and molding of the thermoplastic material, and avoid improper shaping creating a poorly fitted device with diminished protection.
When your young athlete has their first sports-related dental injury, we want you to be prepared. Remember to stay calm and carefully examine and take note of the damage to be explained to the dental professional. Contact Dr. Farrow and Dr. Dewbre for specific instructions on mitigating your injury until they see you in the office. Here are some of the more common injuries we see and how to handle them best.
This can seem far scarier than the reality of the experience. To stabilize the broken or chipped tooth and control any bleeding, you can bite gently on a towel as you head to your dentist. If the tooth piece has come out of the mouth completely, it can be transported in milk, under your tongue, or wrapped in saline-soaked gauze.
If the whole tooth has come out of the 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 placed back into the socket within 5 minutes of ejection can be permanently saved!
Extruded or Laterally Displaced Tooth
This injury will look like a tooth is longer than usual and 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 most effectively performed by a dental professional.
If the tooth looks like it is now shorter than usual, it’s possible it has been pushed into the bone and become intruded. This is a painful experience and requires an immediate visit to an emergency dentist. Please do not attempt to pull the tooth out or reposition the tooth.
These are the most common dental emergencies children have in sports. However, these are not all the 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 risk of permanent damage. If your child develops a fever, has trouble breathing or swallowing, or their bleeding doesn’t stop after about ten minutes of pressure, it could be a more serious problem, and you should go to the closest emergency room.
Trust Farrow & Dewbre Orthodontics
Sports are a huge part of your child’s life and an exciting chance for fun and personal development. So it’s important to make sure dental injuries and orthodontic emergencies don’t stand in your superstar’s way. Our Farrow & Dewbre Orthodontics doctors are knowledgeable, friendly, and eager to guide you through your orthodontic procedure.
Our dedication to our Western Oklahoma patients shows through our exceptional care, and we pride ourselves on staying up-to-date on the latest orthodontic treatments and technologies. Schedule a FREE consultation with us today!