In spite of taking safety precautions and wearing the right equipment, playing sports can be dangerous.
Injuries to the teeth, including cracked, broken, or misplaced teeth, or tooth avulsion — where one or more teeth are forcibly knocked out of place — are extremely common. In fact, more than 5 million cases of tooth avulsion occur each year. It is estimated that up to 39 percent of dental injuries each year stem from playing sports.
If you, your child or someone else’experience a dental injury while playing sports, or any time, taking the proper steps immediately may help save the tooth.
What to Do Right Away
Watching someone else become injured is tough; that’s especially true if the injured person is your child or someone close to you. It’s important to try to keep a level head after a dental injury, though. The steps you take immediately after the injury can help the healing process.
If a young child loses a baby tooth playing sports, do not try to re-attach the tooth. Instead, apply pressure on the injury using sterile gauze, if available, and make a dental appointment as soon as possible.
For a permanent tooth that has been knocked out of place, it may be possible to re-attach the tooth on your own. If this is done within five minutes of the injury, there is a better chance of success. Follow these steps:
- Hold the tooth by the enamel rather than the root, carefully clean it using cold water.
- Try to push the tooth back into its socket, pressing firmly and applying pressure.
If you aren’t able to re-attach the tooth, older children should hold the tooth in between their cheek and gums, if possible. For younger children, place the tooth in cold water or cold milk until you are able to see the dentist.
Chipped, Broken, or Cracked Tooth
If a piece of the tooth was chipped, try to find it, as it may be possible for your child’s dentist to re-attach it.
For teeth that are cracked but not broken, try to leave the tooth alone as much as possible until you are able to see the dentist. Whether the tooth can be saved will depend on the extent of the injury.
Until the dentist is able to provide relief, the affected tooth will probably be sensitive to pressure and hot and cold temperatures.
When an injured tooth is still in the mouth but is not where it is supposed to be, it is important to see your dentist right away. It may be possible for your dentist to simply move the tooth back into place. In other cases, tooth extraction may be necessary.
Don’t Panic If the Tooth Is Lost
If you aren’t able to locate a missing tooth, or if your dentist isn’t able to save it, a dental implant may be a good solution. Dental implants are not a recommended solution for small children; however, as your child becomes a full-grown adolescent, this advanced solution may be an option to consider.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth that is designed to mimic the strength, look, and feel of a natural tooth. Unlike traditional dentures, implants are surgical solutions designed to replace individual teeth.
Not all patients are candidates for dental implants, but they offer a functional and cosmetically pleasing alternative for many people who have had teeth knocked out playing sports. Ask your dentist if a dental implant is a possible solution for your child’s dental injury.
Take Proper Precautions
Sports can be dangerous; it’s simply a fact. However, you can help minimize the risk of dental injuries for your child’s sports practices and games.
One of the most important ways you can encourage young athletes is to wear appropriate mouth guards when playing contact sports. It is estimated that players without mouth guards may be up to 60 times more likely to experience a dental injury than their teammates and opponents who take proper precautionary measures to protect their teeth.
Take precautions, but keep these tips in mind in case you need them at some point in the future.