Protecting your teeth from sports injuries

Sports are a great way to stay active, but they can wreak havoc on a person’s teeth in case of an injury. This is especially true for contact sports such as football, hockey and basketball. One of the best ways to protect your teeth is by using a mouth guard. These plastic protectors can prevent broken teeth or tissue damage in the case of a stray ball, tough tackle, or other impact to the face. The three main types of mouth guards are stock, “boil and bite,” and custom – each offering differing levels of protection for a range of prices. Stock mouth guards can be found in any sporting goods store and are already pre-formed.

Depending on the size of the athlete’s mouth, these may not fit well and can be uncomfortable. They do, however, still provide a minimal amount of protection. “Boil and bite” guards can also be purchased at sporting good stores, but these are able to be fitted to a person’s mouth by allowing the plastic to become flexible in hot water and then molding them around the teeth. This is usually a better option than stock mouth guards, but they can be a bit pricier, running up to $40 or so. The final option of custom mouth guards are the most expensive, but they also provide the highest level of protection. These guards are typically made by a dentist and are designed to custom-fit an athlete’s mouth. A dentist takes an impression of the person’s mouth and then fills it with plaster to create a model of that individual’s teeth and gums. Custom mouth guards are generally the most comfortable and are priced anywhere from $100 to a few hundred dollars.

The American Dental Association highly recommends wearing a mouth guard during all sporting activities, particularly for people who have braces. Braces can easily cut into gums and other soft tissue, creating an extra hazard for their wearers. It’s important to make an appointment with your dentist or orthodontist to discuss your options for wearing a mouth guard. With the addition of this small safety precaution, you can help ensure that you have a beautiful smile all year round.

Advertisements

Ouch! What to do if your child gets a tooth knocked out

Summertime can be one of the most fun and active seasons for your child, but it can also be one of the most dangerous seasons when it comes to dental injuries. It is not uncommon for children to fall off a bike or get injured during a sport and realize they have lost a tooth. If this happens, don’t panic. Teeth can be saved in most cases when an adult can quickly jump into action. First, though, check two things: make sure your child does not have any other serious injuries that may require an ambulance, and determine if the tooth that was knocked out was a baby tooth or an adult tooth.

If the tooth was a baby tooth, don’t worry about finding the tooth or getting it placed back into the mouth. It is still a good idea to see the dentist to make sure no other damage was done, but it is not vital to save the tooth when an adult tooth will soon be erupting anyway. If, however, it was an adult tooth, there are several things you can do to preserve the tooth and increase the chances of it being successfully replanted into the mouth. Just remember that the faster you locate the tooth and get your child to the dentist, the more likely it is that the tooth can be saved. If a tooth is knocked out:

  • Do not let the tooth dry out, and do not soak it in water. If the tooth is dirty, put it in milk immediately.
  • Do not scrape or touch the root surface.
  • After making sure the tooth is clean, put it back into the socket and hold it in place on the way to the dentist. If it cannot be put back into the socket, keep it in a glass of milk to prevent it from drying out.
  • Go straight to your True Dental Discounts, dentist or a hospital immediately. During treatment, a dentist will give your child a “splint” to keep the tooth in place while it heals.

It is important to remember that knocked-out teeth can often be prevented by reminding your child to wear a mouth guard during recreational and sporting activities. Teeth are surprisingly easy to damage, so it’s always better to be overly cautious and protect your child’s beautiful smile.

What should I do in a dental emergency?

Although no one expects to find themselves in a situation that requires immediate dental treatment, the reality is that mouth-related emergencies are fairly common. Whether it’s a broken tooth, a nagging toothache, or a swollen jaw, you or your children may need an emergency appointment with your dentist. In the time before you get into the office, though, the American Dental Association offers suggestions about how to treat emergencies at home:

  • Broken tooth: Rinse mouth with warm water; apply a cold compress to reduce swelling.
  • Severely bitten lip or tongue: Gently clean with a cloth; apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, go to the emergency room right away.
  • Cracked tooth: Avoid any hot or cold beverages, as the tooth will be extremely sensitive to temperature. Do not chew on that side of the mouth. Call the dentist immediately.
  • Broken jaw: Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. Go to the dentist or emergency room right away.
  • Knocked-out tooth: Gently rinse the tooth in water if it is dirty – do not scrub! If possible, hold the tooth in its socket and drive to the dentist immediately. Otherwise, some experts recommend keeping the tooth in milk until you arrive.
  • Toothache: Rinse mouth with warm water; gently floss to remove any pain-causing debris caught between the teeth. If desired, use an over-the-counter pain reliever; however, do NOT apply aspirin directly to the gum, as it may burn the tissue. Call your dentist if the pain does not subside.
  • Food or other objects caught between teeth: Gently use floss to remove the offending object. Never use a sharp object or cut your gums. If floss cannot solve the problem, call your dentist.

In all cases, it is best to contact a dentist in the event of a dental emergency. Most dentists, including the ones on your True Dental Discounts, dental plan, set aside time during their day to account for emergencies. When you call, explain your issue as thoroughly as possible so the dentist can be prepared for your arrival. Most of the time, the problem will be easily diagnosed, and the dentist will inform you of any needed follow-up appointments to address the issue. For instance, a nagging toothache may be caused by tooth decay that the dentist can remove and fill.