Playing sports is one of the most engaging activities for kids in middle school and high school, even in college and beyond. Unfortunately, despite the many positive benefits that come from playing sports, injuries are sometimes unavoidable, especially when playing sports like ice hockey or football.
Beyond the normal sprains, bruises and twists, dental injuries are some of the most common injuries athletes experience, especially those who play contact sports. According to research by Sports Health, more than five million teeth are avulsed each year. It’s also estimated that 13 to 29 percent of dental injuries are caused by playing sports and that sports are at the root of most traumatic dental injuries among teens. Most dental traumas occur in the maxillary central incisor tooth, with men being about twice as likely to experience dental injuries.
Since ice hockey season is in full swing here in Middle Georgia, we wanted to provide pertinent information regarding sports-related dental injuries parents and athletes should be aware of, in addition to information about protecting teeth while on the ice or field.
Common Sports-related Dental Injuries
Avulsions – As mentioned previously, teeth avulsions are one of the most common sports-related dental injuries. Avulsions in laymen’s terms mean the tooth has been knocked out or dislodged, which occurs most often when playing contact sports like hockey, football, basketball, martial arts and boxing.
Cracked Teeth – Cracked or fractured teeth are another common dental injury that occurs while playing sports. These kinds of injuries happen when a player is struck in the mouth by an elbow, hand or knee. It’s been estimated that players who do not wear mouth guards are 60 times as likely to suffer a fractured tooth. Symptoms of a cracked tooth include sharp pain coming and going, pain while eating or drinking, sensitivity to hot or cold and losing part of the outer enamel shell.
Tooth Intrusion – It’s more common for a tooth to become dislodged, but tooth intrusion, which refers to the tooth being pushed back into the jaw bone, can happen as well. This kind of injury occurs more frequently in children because their alveolar bones are not as strong or developed as they are in adults. Tooth intrusion can lead to several complications if not treated soon after the incident. Complications include:
- The pulp dies or is damaged to the point where it cannot be repaired
- Root resorption, or shortening of the roots
- Ankylosis, or fusion of the root of the intruded tooth to the alveolar bone, which is the part of the jaw that holds the sockets
Fractured Root – Teeth injuries are not always visible, as is the case with fractured roots. When a fractured root occurs, the tooth breaks in the root and travels upward to the crown, but often does not crack at the crown, making it difficult to detect. An infected pulp is a common side effect of an undetected fractured root.
Mouth Guards Are Crucial to Preventing Dental Trauma
Although contact sports cause the most dental injuries, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends wearing a mouth guard while playing any organized sport at all times, as it’s the most effective way to prevent dental injuries. Further studies have shown athletes who play sports not requiring mouth guards, such as basketball, soccer, baseball, and softball, only use a mouth guard about seven percent of the time. Only football, ice hockey, field hockey and lacrosse mandate mouth guards.
Are You Looking for General or Emergency Dental Care in Macon, Georgia?
Mouth guards should always be worn during team sports, but sometimes injuries still occur. In those instances, it’s critical you receive immediate medical attention to avoid further complications, such as infection. For athletes in the Macon area, Providence Dental Spa provides a variety of professional dental treatments, including dental implants, which are often an excellent route for anyone who has experienced an avulsion. For more information about how Providence Dental Spa can make you smile, call (478) 733-0857 or visit online for more information.