Friday, October 6th, 2017
If you have kids, most likely they are or will be enrolled in some type of sports activity. While it is easy to help your child learn good dental health and dental hygiene habits at home, it’s not quite as easy to prevent injuries that may occur on the playing field. There are some simple precautions that you can take and teach your child to try to prevent sports related dental injuries.
The following suggestions can also be applied to any adult!
Following are some of the sports that have the highest risk of dental sports injuries that we have seen at Enhance Dental Centre:
• Martial arts
• Weight lifting
So what steps can you take to protect your child from sports related dental injuries?
Pre-season Dental Care
Before your child begins participating in sports activities, it is a wise idea to have him/her visit the dentist for a pre-season checkup. The dentist will look for any existing conditions such as loose or broken teeth, gum disease, bite problems and issues with the jaw. As well if any dental work needs to be done, such as fillings or extractions, these should be done well in advance of the child participating in sports activities.
As well, if your child wears braces or any other dental appliances, their dentist will make recommendations for how you can keep these things safe during sports.
Injury Prevention During Sporting Activities
Depending on the types of sports your child participates in, mouth guards are a good and common option. A mouth guard is essential when participating in contact sports such as football, however it can also be beneficial during any other type of sport that may lead to any type of facial injury, including falls, or being hit by flying equipment such as a hockey puck.
A mouth guard is a soft plastic appliance that is used in many sports to protect and prevent injuries to the teeth, mouth, cheeks, tongue and jaw.
The use of a mouth guard can protect your child from a wide variety of dental and facial sports injuries including the following:
• Chipped teeth
• Broken teeth
• Broken crowns
• Broken bridgework
• Broken braces
• Damage to the roots of teeth
• Gum injuries
• Cheek injuries
• Lip injuries
• Jaw injuries
As you can see, a mouth guard can prevent so many injuries, it’s one of the most important things you can offer your child if they wish to participate in sports.
Types of Mouth Guards
There are different types of mouth guards available that include the following:
Custom Made Mouth Guard
A custom made mouth guard is specially designed by a dentist or dental lab. A dentist will take a mold of the patient’s teeth to create a custom mouth guard that fit snugly over the teeth. Custom made mouth guards are the safest best for anyone participating in contact sports.
Boil and Bite Mouth Guard
A boil and bite mouth guard is a generic pre-formed mouth guard that can be purchased over the counter. The mouth guard is then fitted to the patient’s teeth through a ‘boil and bite’ process that involves boiling the mouth guard in water until it becomes pliable enough for the patient to then bite down on it to create an impression of their teeth.
Stock Mouth Guard
A stock mouth guard is simply a generic mouth guard that can be purchased over the counter and used immediately. There is no ‘impression’ or ‘fitting’ process involved. A stock mouth guard is ready to wear, and as such, provides a lesser level of protection than other types of mouth guards that are molded to fit each patient’s teeth.
How Much Does a Mouth Guard Cost?
Depending on the type of mouth guard you choose, the cost can range anywhere from twenty dollars for a stock or boil and bite version, to as much as five hundred dollars. Unfortunately, most dental guards are not covered by a dental benefits plan because they are not considered corrective in nature. You should still check with our benefits provider just in case they can offer anything towards it.
Maintenance of a Mouth Guard
It’s important to make note that a mouth guard requires a high level of sanitation, otherwise bacteria can be introduced into the mouth and dental cavities that can lead to infections, gum disease etc. A mouth guard should be cleaned daily using a special cleansing solution designed specifically for mouth guards. Your dentist or pharmacist can advise you on the most recommended cleaner to use.
Risks of a Mouth Guard
While the benefits of using a mouth guard far out-weight the risks, it’s important to note that as stated above, improper sanitization can lead to infections and other oral conditions.
As well, a mouth guard will wear out over time and as your child’s mouth changes. It should be replaced immediately if any of the surfaces or edges become sharp or jagged, as this can actually increase the risk of injury to your child’s teeth and mouth.
What Happens if My Child Experiences a Dental Injury?
If your child suffers a dental sports injury, it’s imperative that they be seen by a doctor and/or dentist as soon as possible, especially in the case of a tooth that has been knocked out. At Enhance Dental Centre, we have a high rate of success in re-implanting knocked out teeth if as long as the following steps are taken immediately following the injury:
1. Only handle the tooth by the crown – do not hold it by the root.
2. Gently rise the tooth under cool clean water.
3. Gently place the tooth back in the socket and have your child close their mouth slowly and carefully so as not to disturb the tooth. If the tooth cannot be placed back into the socket, it should be kept moist either by placing it in milk, or inside the cheek so that it is bathed in saliva. Special tooth ‘rescue’ kits can also be purchased at drugstores that will help you preserve a knocked out tooth until you can get to our office.
4. Bring your child to our office as quickly as possible. The more time that passes between the injury and a dental visit, the less the changes become that the tooth can be successfully re-implanted.
Unfortunately, dental injuries can be a part of many of the common sports your child may wish to participate in, however, with the right preventive measures in place, and a little bit of knowledge, you can protect your child’s teeth and in many cases, repair the damage. If you have any questions about this issue, please give us a call at Enhance Dental Centre.