If your children play sports, you know all too well that injuries to the teeth and mouth are common among athletes. Parents and caregivers also understand that it is important to protect their child’s smile for cosmetic and health reasons. At Delplanche Orthodontics, we have helpful tips on sports safety for your child’s mouth.
Our team is committed to creating healthier smiles for kids in our community. Part of that involves teaching our young patients how to keep their teeth safe when participating in physical activities. Here are some common dental injuries we see in athletes and a few tips to prevent them!
Use a Mouthguard to Prevent Injury
Mouthguards are one of the easiest ways to keep a child’s smile safe while playing sports. Young athletes who wear braces should always wear a mouthguard!
If you have children who wear braces and play sports, knowing which mouthguard model will be the best for their needs is helpful. Regular mouthguards provide good protection, but they’re made from a thermoplastic material that heats up in the mouth. This molds the mouthguard to the teeth and brackets, which means it cannot move with the teeth as they begin shifting towards new positions. This can interfere with the straightening process and may lead to extra appointments or longer treatment times.
Dr. Delplanche recommends an orthodontic mouthguard for athletic patients who wear braces. These are specifically for orthodontic patients and are made to fit comfortably over traditional brackets. Instead of the thermoplastic material regular mouthguards use, orthodontic models are made of high-grade silicone that cushions the lips. This prevents them from bumping against the teeth and braces, reducing the risk of injury.
Sports-Related Mouth Protection
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, 99% of parents with children playing organized sports feel mouthguards should be required to play. Still, only 40% of those parents said their child never wears one for practice or games.
Getting a kid to wear a mouthguard may seem like a chore, but mouthguards are one of the most inexpensive ways to protect your child’s teeth, tongue, gums, and cheeks during extra-curricular activities.
Orofacial and dental injuries are a risk for participants of all ages, genders, and skill levels during organized and unorganized sports. While most dental injuries happen during collision and contact sports, they can also occur in limited-contact, non-contact, and high-velocity activities.
Currently, 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
Different Types of Mouthguards
There are three basic types of mouthguards that vary in cost, comfort, and protection levels.
Stock mouthguards are ready-made and do not require a visit to the dentist or orthodontist. You can typically find these in most sporting goods stores, but they come in a limited range of sizes. We also keep orthodontic mouthguards for patients in braces in-stock for our patients in active orthodontic treatment. Be sure to ask us for one if your child is a patient in our office and is currently playing in any sports.
Mouth-formed models soften when placed in hot water, then form in a child’s mouth where the pressure of their bite shapes it. This gives braces patients a more personalized option, but one that you can still purchase over-the-counter at many sports stores. We do not recommend these types of mouthguards for patients in active orthodontic treatment.
Custom-made mouthguards are available in most dental and orthodontic offices and are a great option! They are created using impressions of the child’s mouth, resulting in the most accurate and comfortable fit. Any mouthguard should fit a child’s mouth comfortably and securely, have high-impact energy absorption, and never restrict their breathing. We offer these as an option to our patients, be sure to ask us about them!
Managing Orthodontic Emergencies
Mouthguards protect active children from potential injury, but accidents can still happen. These include:
- any severe injury or trauma to the face, neck, mouth, teeth, or gums
- swelling, infection, or bleeding of the gums or mouth
- severe pain or discomfort in the teeth, mouth, face, or neck
While actual emergencies are rare, they occur from time to time, and we want you to be prepared. Here are some of the more common injuries we see in Beaverton and Lake Oswego and how to handle them until your visit.
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, you need firm but precise pressure. This process is most effectively performed by a dental professional.
A fractured tooth is often 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 our office. If the tooth piece has completely come out of the mouth, it can be transported in milk, under your tongue, or wrapped in saline-soaked gauze.
If the tooth looks like it is now shorter than usual, it has likely pushed into the bone and become intruded. An intruded tooth is a painful experience and requires an immediate visit to an emergency dentist. Do not attempt to pull the tooth out or reposition the tooth.
If the whole tooth has come out of the socket, pick the tooth up by the crown and be careful not to touch the roots. 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. As unbelievable as it may seem, a tooth placed back into the socket within 5 minutes of ejection can be permanently saved.
While these are the most common dental emergencies children in sports are likely to face, these are not all-encompassing. Make sure you get to our office immediately after an injury as the sooner these types of dental emergencies can be managed the better!
Our team can completely remedy many mouth injuries caught in the first couple hours without risk of permanent damage. If your child develops a fever, has trouble breathing or swallowing, or the bleeding doesn’t stop after about ten minutes of pressure, it could be a more serious concern, and you should go to the closest emergency room.
Keep Your Child’s Smile Safer with Delplanche Orthodontics
Even a minor dental or orthodontic injury can be upsetting, as tough as some kids can be. Wearing a mouthguard regularly when playing sports will help reduce the risk of these injuries, keeping smiles safe!
Delplanche Orthodontics is proud to support athletics in our community, helping children continue playing the sports they love while maintaining healthy teeth and gums. To learn more about protecting a child’s smile on the field or on the court, get in touch with our Beaverton and Lake Oswego offices, and we will be happy to outline all of your options!