Playing sports is a great way for kids (and adults!) to enjoy exercise and learn how to play as a team. But unfortunately, sports aren’t without risk. Traumatic tooth injuries often occur as a result of an accident or sports injury. While the majority of these injuries are minor, it’s important to know about the possible dental injuries caused by sports and the appropriate ways to protect your teeth while playing them.
Cracked Tooth Injuries
One of the most common tooth injuries caused by sports is a cracked tooth. With this injury, you can experience a variety of symptoms ranging from erratic pain when you chew your food to sudden pain when your tooth is exposed to very hot or cold temperatures. In many cases, the pain may come and go and your dentist may have difficulty locating the tooth causing the discomfort. If you experience these symptoms or suspect a cracked tooth, it’s best to see an endodontist at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado as soon as possible.
Since endodontists specialize in saving cracked teeth, the sooner your tooth is treated, the better the outcome. Once treated, most cracked teeth continue to function as they should, for many years of pain-free biting and chewing.
A chipped tooth is a type of cracked tooth, and chipped teeth account for the majority of dental injuries. Most chipped teeth can be repaired either by reattaching the broken piece of tooth enamel or by bonding a tooth-colored filling or crown in place.
To keep your chipped tooth from worsening, be sure to see your dentist as soon as possible after the injury to treat your chipped tooth.
Knocked Out Tooth Injuries
Some athletes will unfortunately experience a knocked out tooth while playing sports. But, a knocked out tooth doesn’t necessarily mean it’s lost for good. Proper emergency action can save the tooth so that it can be replanted successfully and last for years to come. If you or your child has a knocked out tooth, this is considered a dental emergency.
Review and remember these tooth-saving steps from the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) that take you and your tooth from the time it falls out until you reach medical support:
1. Pick up the tooth by the crown (the chewing surface); NOT the root.
Locate the tooth immediately; don’t leave it at the site of the accident. Handle the tooth carefully when you pick it up, and never touch the root of the tooth, only the crown (chewing surface).
2. If dirty, gently rinse the tooth with water.
Use only water to gently rinse off any dirt. Do not use soap or chemicals. Don’t scrub or dry the tooth, and don’t wrap the tooth in a tissue or cloth.
3. Reposition the tooth in the socket immediately, if possible.
Try to put the tooth back into its socket right away. Gently push it in with your fingers, by handling the crown, or position it above the socket and close your mouth slowly. Hold the tooth in place with your fingers or by gently biting down on it.
4. Keep the tooth moist at all times.
The tooth must stay moist at all times, either in your mouth or, if it can’t be replaced in the socket, put it in milk, in your mouth next to your cheek, or in an emergency tooth preservation kit (such as Save-a-Tooth®). Don’t use regular tap water; root surface cells can’t tolerate that for extended periods of time.
5. See an endodontist or dentist within 30 minutes of the tooth injury.
Bring the tooth with you to your emergency appointment ideally. It’s best to see the doctor within 30 minutes; however, it is possible to save a tooth even if it has been outside the mouth for an hour or more.
How to Protect Your Teeth While Playing Sports
Dentists and endodontists can often repair injured teeth and even save a knocked out tooth, but preventing injuries is key when it comes to playing sports.
Here are a few ways to protect your teeth from sports-related injuries:
1. Wear a Helmet
Wear a helmet when competing or even practicing for a contact sport like football, rugby, hockey, and lacrosse. The helmet should be designed specifically for your particular sport and have a robust face guard that can absorb the impact of contact without breaking.
2. Wear a Mouthguard
Sports like basketball and soccer may not require helmets, but you can still injure your teeth while playing. Wear a mouthguard when playing these sports to protect your teeth.
3. Swim With Caution
Although swimming isn’t a contact sport, spending a significant amount of time swimming laps can damage your teeth. Be sure that the pool you select is well-maintained, and protect your teeth by using an enamel-strengthening toothpaste.
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When you have a tooth injury from sports, you need an endodontist you can count on. Our specialized endodontists make it their mission to restore your teeth and relieve your pain. With offices conveniently located in Pueblo and Colorado Springs, the care you need is just a phone call away. Contact us today to schedule your evaluation!