If you play sports, you likely wear protective gear. But have you taken measures to protect your teeth from dental injury and prepare for potential dental emergencies? Our Edmonton dentists share how to do that in this article, discuss facts around common sports injuries in teeth, and more.
Sports-Related Tooth Injury
If you play or watch a lot of sports, you've likely seen favourite athletes or teammates end up with cracked or knocked-out teeth or other dental injuries as they've rushed toward a ball or bouncing puck.
Unfortunately, these types of sports-related injuries happen daily. They result in dental emergencies and can have severely negative implications for oral and overall health in the future. However, these injuries - and their after-effects - may not be an inevitable price of competition.
Knowing the facts about common types of dental injury in sports, how you can prevent than and what to do if they happen can help you preserve your oral health even if you do take a blow to the mouth.
Plus, by taking measures such as having your dentist fit you for a custom-made sports mouthguard to protect your teeth while you play, you can preserve your smile and your oral health for years to come while avoiding being sidelined due to injury.
What is the most common sports-related tooth injury?
There are actually 3 common sports-related injuries in teeth. Athletes may end up with any of these or other injuries in a given season:
If a tooth sustains a blow at a certain angle, it can result in a fractured root, which begins at the root level and makes its way up to the tooth's visible surface.
these fractures are often invisible and may only become apparent once infection develops. The location of the fracture along the root determines the severity of this kind of tooth injury.
If you've got a fractured tooth root, the sooner you can see your dentist and receive root canal therapy (also referred to as endodontic treatment) to prevent infection from developing in the tooth pulp, the less likely you'll be able to lose the tooth due to necrosis.
While natural teeth are strong, they are not indestructible and may crack or fracture if you take a blow to the face while playing sports.
Though superficial cracks in the enamel of a tooth may not leave your dental health at risk, if the crack or split starts at the crown of the tooth and extends downward, we refer to this as a cracked tooth.
Symptoms may include sharp pain when biting down and tooth pain that comes and goes but isn't always present.
If a section of the tooth's outer enamel shell is lost, this can leave subsequent layers of your tooth exposed.
Some cracks may extend beyond the gumline to affect the cusp, which may require a root canal or tooth extraction to prevent bacterial infection.
Many people associate sports injuries with knocked-out teeth, but some injuries may drive teeth back into the jawbone. This type of dental trauma is called an intrusion.
While this injury is more common in baby teeth, it can occur in athletes of all ages, and the healing time from such an injury may leave you on the sidelines for a significant amount of time.
Due to this injury, destruction or death (necrosis) of tooth plulp or irreparable damage may occur. Root resorption (a shortening of the roots_ may also occur, along with ankylosis (the fusion of the inured tooth's root to the alveolar bone).
Which sports have the most dental injuries?
Athletes can sustain injuries to their teeth in both low-contact and high-impact sports, including basketball, football, ice hockey, lacrosse and field hockey.
What should I do if I experience a dental injury while playing sports?
Dental emergencies almost never occur when we expect them - least of all when we're enjoying our favourite activities. However, knowing how to react to a dental trauma in sports and understanding what steps you can take to reduce pain and possibly save your tooth might help you to stay calm if an injury does occur.
If you sustain a sports injury to your teeth, come to our dental office as soon as possible to have it treated.
Most of the time, fractured teeth can be repaired by reattaching the broken piece of tooth. Alternatively, the dentist may use bonding, a tooth-coloured filling or a crown to repair the injury.
Until you get to the dentist, do these things to manage pain:
- Rinse your mouth out with warm water
- Use gauze to apply pressure to the area until any bleeding stops
- Place a cold ice pack on the cheek or lips to alleviate pain and reduce swelling
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
How can I protect my teeth while playing sports?
Being involved in sports can offer hours of fun. Plus, staying physically active helps you maintain a healthy body. That said, some element of risk is involved in any high-impact activity and at Emergency Dental Clinics, we spend a significant amount of time either saving teeth after they have sustained injury or replacing them if they cannot be saved.
However, we advise our patients that preventing tooth loss and sports injuries in teeth is preferable to addressing it after the fact. While a dentist can perform a root canal procedure to save a tooth or discuss tooth replacement options if required, the longer you can preserve your natural teeth, the lower your risk of oral health complications will be later in life.
One of the most important steps you can take is to have your regular dentist fit you with a custom-made sports mouth guard, and wear it whenever you head out onto the rink, court or field.
Do you have a sports-related tooth injury? Contact our Edmonton dentists right away. We can examine your injury and recommend treatment options.