Sports-related dental injuries account for 40% of all dental injuries in the United States, according to the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. Symptoms can vary, depending upon the injury’s location, and can show up through bleeding, swelling, bruising and redness of the dental tissues. Larger injuries can include fractures and missing teeth. Assessing the injury quickly and receiving early treatment is essential.
Types of Sports-Related Dental Injuries
There are a number of ways you can damage your teeth and oral cavity while playing sports. They can include:
- Soft tissue injuries. Direct trauma to the face can create swelling, lacerations or punctures in the gums, tongue and cheeks.
- Chipped tooth. Due to a facial impact, a small portion or corner of a tooth can break off. This normally does not cause pain. If it is large or unsightly, visit your dentist to see what kind of treatment would be best.
- Tooth dislocation. If a tooth is knocked out (avulsion), find the tooth, rinse it with milk—not water—and either place it in the mouth or into a glass of milk and take it to the dentist immediately. Your dental professional may be able to reinsert the tooth.
- Displaced tooth. If a tooth is knocked loose or twisted within the socket (luxation), your dentist may be able to move the tooth back into its correct position.
- Fractured or cracked tooth. If a tooth breaks off near the lower or soft parts, it can cause severe pain and sensitivity. But even small fractures or cracks at the top of the tooth are reasons to visit the dentist for treatment. They can easily and quickly become larger problems if not attended to.
- Fractured root. This fracture starts at the bottom of the tooth and spreads up the tooth away from the gumline. If it occurs below the gumline it can be hard to visibly diagnose. Note that symptoms can be intermittent, leading you to think that the injury isn’t serious. They include a sharp pain when biting or chewing, especially when releasing the bite, or painful sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks.
- Dislocated jaw. If you experience a popping in the jaw during an injury, or notice that your jaw is out of alignment, it may be dislocated. Your dental professional may be able to reposition the jaw into its normal functioning position.
Read our related blog post: What happens when you’ve damaged a tooth
How to Help Prevent Sports-Related Dental Injuries
- Pre-screen. If you are considering taking on a sport, get a preseason dental or oral health screening. This can help to uncover underlying issues and identify those with increased risk of a dental injury.
- Invest in a mouth guard. The American Dental Association recommends a custom-fitted mouth guard to help reduce trauma to the jaw and teeth from a sports injury.
- Don’t chew on hard objects. When the stress of the game is high, the tendency can be to bite down or chew on a hard food, ice or a hard object. Clenching of the teeth can also create problems.
- Wear a specialized helmet. People who have been diagnosed with a disorder that can cause them to fall down can wear a specially-made helmet that can protect their teeth and head.
Advanced Family Dentistry Cares About Sports and Your Teeth
At Advanced Family Dentistry, we’re all about keeping your teeth safe during sports. We encourage you to get a custom-fitted mouth guard that can ensure a tight fit so that it will stay in place during sports. Use it for non-contact and recreational sports as well.
If you do incur a sports-related dental injury, please contact our office at any time of the day, evening or weekend at 703-390-9191.
In addition, we’d love to be your regular family dentist and do accept new patients! Contact us to schedule your first visit to our Reston, VA office.
Dr. Sonny Kim is a Diplomat of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI), the highest education level for general dentists in this field.
Advanced Family Dentistry
Dr. Sonny Kim, DMD
11876 Sunrise Valley Dr., Suite 101
Reston, VA 20191