Practice Tooth Safety While Sliding Safely into Home This Baseball Season

Baseball season is upon us, and that, combined with the April observation of National Facial Protection Month makes it a perfect time to talk about the importance of protecting your teeth from trauma while playing sports.

Just as football players wears pads, soccer players wear shin guards and lacrosse players wear helmets, all athletes of every age should include mouth guards in their protective gear, says San Francisco dentist Dr. Robert Walley.

It is estimated by the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation that 3 million teeth will be knocked out during youth sporting events this year. Part of that surely is due to this statistic: an American Association of Orthodontists survey found that 67 percent of parents said their children don’t wear mouth guards while participating in sporting activities, even though the NYSSF reports that athletes who neglect to wear mouth guards are 60 times more likely to suffer dental trauma.

Think about it this way: a mouth guard, even a custom-made one such as the kind we provide in our practice, costs significantly less than repairing a broken or knocked out tooth. Mouth guards also can help protect your children from concussion.

The costs of dental repairs due to trauma have a way of mounting in areas other than just your checkbook. In addition to the $33 billion in health care costs caused by approximately 12 million people between ages 5 and 22 who experience sports-related injuries each year, they also rack up 20 million missed days of school.

“A simple piece of molded plastic goes a long way toward preventing all of that,” Dr. Walley says. “We can take digital impressions of your teeth here in our office and have a customized mouth guard fabricated that will hold the teeth in place while allowing for normal speech and breathing.”

Although youth who play football, hockey and boxing are required to wear mouth guards, these protective devices tend to be optional in other sports. We recommend that you wear a mouth guard while participating in any sport where there is a risk that you could be hit by an errant elbow, knee, ball or other piece of sports-related gear.

“Once those permanent teeth have erupted, that’s all you get,” Dr. Walley says. “Lose those and you face some serious choices in terms of tooth replacement. We want to help you avoid having to make a decision like that.”

What to do if You Get Injured

We know that not every injury can be avoided.  Here’s what to do if a tooth gets knocked out while playing sports or just horsing around with friends:

  • Find the tooth immediately and pick it up by the crown- not the root.
  • Rinse it gently with water if it’s dirty. Don’t scrub, dry, or wrap the tooth in a tissue or cloth.
  •  Immediately place it back into the socket if you can. Hold it in place with your fingers or by gently biting down on it.
  •   Keep tooth moist at all times. If it can’t be replaced in the socket, put it in an emergency tooth preservation kit if available, in milk, or in your mouth next to your cheek
  • Get to the nearest available dentist within 30 minutes. This greatly increases your chances of saving the tooth.

There are replacement options if the tooth cannot be saved. They include bridges and dental implants restored with crowns. You can learn more about the importance of replacing missing teeth in our blog post on the topic.

Please call our office if you would like to learn more about custom mouth guards or tooth replacement.