Getting your children involved in sports at an early age is helpful in many ways. It allows them to explore their interests, instills healthy habits, and provides social development opportunities.
But young athletes are more likely to experience sports-related injuries. In fact, sports-related injuries sustained by children as young as five years old tally up to seven million.
That’s bad news for your child’s teeth: The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation (NYSSF) once predicted more than three million knocked-out teeth in youth sporting events in just one year.
Not only can dental injury hurt your child, but it can hurt your wallet, too. Replacing a tooth can cost more than a pocket full of change. That’s why we’ve rounded up a handful of suggestions on how you can protect your child’s teeth in sports.
Possibly the most obvious of the solutions, a mouthguard can make a huge difference in sports safety.
Despite the fact that athletes without a mouth guard are 60 times more likely to suffer from injury, 67% of parents admit that their child doesn’t wear one. Why?
Neglecting mouthguards is due to a number of factors: no rules that mandate mouthguard usage, uncomfortable mouthguards and a lack of awareness about their importance.
Make the mouth guard a part of your child’s standard uniform, and encourage other athletes’ parents to do the same. If the whole team makes this change together, your kids are more likely to be willing to wear the mouthguard every time.
To address the discomfort issue, ask your dentist about getting a custom-fitted mouth guard specifically molded to your child’s mouth.
Helmets and Other Safety Equipment
Some sports, like football and men’s lacrosse, require players to wear helmets. Helmets can greatly increase the protection of your child’s teeth.
Helmets that have a cage or plastic shield over the face can prevent injuries to the mouth, thus keeping your child’s teeth safe.
Other helmets, such as for bicycling, don’t offer the same level of protection. It’s not feasible to put a football helmet on your soccer player, but if your child is in a sport that uses helmets, always opt for one that offers the extra protection for the face.
Elbow pads and knee pads can also reduce the risk of mouth injury during sports. Elbows to the face are common in team sports, and an elbow pad can reduce the impact of what could otherwise be bone-on-bone contact.
Shock-Absorbing Play Materials
Wrap goal posts and other hard poles in a soft material, like rubber or foam, to offer cushioning on an otherwise hard metal or plastic surface. This can help minimize the damage if your child runs into or is pushed into the hard surface.
When it comes to your playground, opt for a soft material, like mulch or sand. Make sure it’s deep enough so that rough tumbles don’t lead to a smacked mouth on the hard bottom of the sandbox.
For field sports, try to find fields that are well-maintained and have plenty of grass. A dry, dirt surface is harder on impact and can cause more damage to the mouth.
An extremely effective way to help prevent tooth injuries in sports is to teach your child about the importance of safety in the game. Teach them how to play safe and how to avoid potentially harmful situations.
Emphasize the importance of being a good sport, and that winning isn’t always the most important thing. It’s easy for young players to lose their cool and put themselves and other players in danger due to aggressive or irresponsible gameplay.
What to Do When Your Child’s Tooth Is Knocked Out
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, a tooth gets knocked out. If this happens, the first thing to remember is to always remain calm, so as not to upset your child any further. It’s much easier to help a relaxed child than a child who is in hysterics.
Tooth avulsion, which is what we call it when a tooth is knocked out, should be treated by a dentist. But before you get to the dentist, there are some key things to remember:
- Save the tooth: Keep it clean, dry and contained (not in a piece of tissue, as particles of the paper can stick to the tooth). Rinse it with water, milk, saliva or saline, and avoid picking it up by the root so that you don’t damage the surface of the root.
- Don’t replace the tooth: It’s very likely that the tooth has gotten dirty, so don’t try to put it back in yourself.
- Stop the bleeding: If your child is bleeding from the mouth, contain it with a clean piece of cloth or gauze. It’s important to minimize blood loss as much as possible.
Brought to you by Blue Hills Dental. Material discussed is meant for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as tax, legal, medical or investment advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, the information should be relied upon only when coordinated with individual professional advice. #2017-40523 (exp. 5/19).