An elbow to the mouth. A full-impact collision with another player. A hit with a bat, stick, ball, or puck. Whether professional athlete, hobbyist, or student, game play in any form can lead to serious dental injuries. The Journal of the American Dental Association reports that 13 to 39 percent of all dental injuries are sports-related. Though most sports-related dental injuries are preventable, when they do occur they are also easily treatable using restorative dentistry.
Here are four of the most common dental injuries incurred while playing sports:
- Fractured tooth: There are levels to the severity of a fractured tooth. When the tooth’s enamel is fractured, typically there is no pain and the repair is simple – a porcelain dental crown can cover the rough edges. A slightly more invasive fracture will reach to the dentin layer of a tooth and the injury will feel tender. If the pulp layer of the tooth is also impacted, there may even be a visible red or pink area. When the fracture extends beyond the surface of your tooth, it may be necessary to undergo root canal therapy to prevent infection from setting in and to save your tooth. After the root canal, a crown is typically recommended to restore full functionality. In some cases, the fracture may be so deep your dentist may recommend pulling the tooth and replacing it with a dental bridge or other type of prosthetic.
- Avulsed tooth: Simply enough, tooth avulsion is when a tooth is knocked out of your mouth. Unless there is a dentist or doctor on-site who can immediately tend to the tooth, in most cases an avulsed tooth cannot be saved. The repair has to be made quickly for the tooth to remain viable. But you don’t have to worry that your child or you yourself will be without a tooth forever. Missing teeth can be easily restored using dental implants, dentures, or a bridge. This helps protect the integrity of your remaining teeth and fills the gap in your smile.
- Chipped tooth: A chipped tooth is one of the least worrisome oral health injuries from playing sports. A chip is, in most cases, an aesthetic issue, and it can be corrected easily with a solution like porcelain veneers. Though you will see plenty of hockey players proudly sporting the chipped teeth they’ve earned in their sporting events, most people like to have this problem corrected eventually.
- Dislodged tooth: Sometimes in a practice or game, a tooth can be dislodged from its normal position and either pushed out of its socket, deeper into its socket, or sideways. This injury is sometimes referred to as a tooth luxation. When a tooth is moved like this and is loose in the mouth, it typically needs to be repositioned back to where it belongs by a dentist. Attempting this maneuver on your own can damage the tooth, its root, or your gum, so don’t be too hasty to try to make the repair yourself in an effort to get back on the field or court.
High school athletes in particular are at risk for oral sports injuries. The National Federation of State High School Associations mandates mouthguards for four sports: football, ice hockey, lacrosse, and field hockey. But high school varsity basketball teams are where many orofacial injuries occur, most often because so few players wear mouthguards.
In dental emergencies, which is what oral sports injuries typically are, knowing that you’re visiting a no-fear dentistry practice can make the work ahead far more tolerable. But, above all, if you or your child plays sports, use a mouth guard that is custom-fit for you and you alone to help prevent dental injuries.
Discuss your questions and concerns about oral health sports injuries with Dr. John Moore. Make your restorative dentistry appointment today.