Protecting Your Child’s Teeth during Sports

If your child plays any sport, be it softball, football, or soccer, you’ve probably spent some time worrying about a broken arm or sprained ankle. But one type of injury that many parents forget to worry about is dental injury. A child faces the risk of injuring his or her face or mouth when playing any sport—even non-contact sports like gymnastics and skateboarding—and therefore it is important to take the preventative measures necessary to protect your child’s mouth and teeth from injury. Here is a look at the risks associated with dental injury, along with how you can best protect your child’s mouth and teeth from harm.

Possible risks with dental injury

An estimated 50 percent of children suffer from some type of tooth injury during childhood. Moreover, of all childhood dental injuries reported, an estimated 10 to 39 percent of them are sports related. In most cases, tooth injuries are not life threatening. However, they can cause severe complications. Certain injuries can result in chipped, loose, displaced, or even lost teeth. In addition, tooth injuries can lead to other oral health problems, including tooth color change, gum swelling, and gum boil. Add to this, of course, the negative effects that such an injury could have on your child’s self-confidence. If your child experiences dental trauma, be sure to contact a pediatric dentist as soon as possible. (And if your child has lost part or all of a tooth, place the broken tooth in milk to prevent it from drying out.)

How to protect your child’s teeth

Fortunately, many tooth and mouth injuries are preventable. The number one way to prevent dental injuries in your children during sports is to have them wear a mouthguard. As the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry states, a well designed mouthguard can “protect the lips and intraoral tissues from bruising and laceration…protect the teeth from crown fractures, root fractures, luxation and avulsions…protect the jaw from fracture and dislocations, and provide support for edentulous space.” So in addition to protecting your teeth, a mouthguard can protect the gums, lips, and jaw as well.

You can find soft mouthguards that fit over the upper teeth at most sports stores. Keep in mind here, however, that not all mouthguards are created equal. The best mouthguards fit comfortably and do not inhibit talking or breathing—meaning children are more likely to wear them.

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