You have places to be, people to see, and mouths to feed. Sometimes, you are doing all you can just to keep up, leaving little time to prepare for the unexpected. It only takes one sporadic event to make you realize just how fast things can go awry. That’s why sports safety for kids’ mouths and what to do during an orthodontic emergency is not something to think about later.
Your child’s dental health is a significant concern when sports can increase the possibility of a stick, a ball, or a shoulder to the mouth. Whether your child has metal braces, clear aligners like Invisalign, or even a retainer, their mouth needs to be adequately protected to avoid painful injuries and permanent mouth damage.
Sports-related injuries account for 40% of all dental injuries in the United States. You may think high-speed sports involving a lot of contact and collisions are the only concern for mouth injuries, but accidents happen all the time. A fall in a solo sport like skateboarding can result in a chipped tooth or broken bracket.
Orthodontic patients can still play sports during treatment; just remember your orthodontic-friendly mouth guard! And of course, check your appliances and mouth immediately if you have an accident during your athletic activity. If the appliances appear damaged or the teeth loosened, schedule an appointment for repair as soon as possible.
When we evaluate and treat dental injuries, a quick assessment and early treatment is our primary goal. The most common injuries we see are tooth fractures, frequently referred to as a ‘chipped tooth,’ and soft tissue lacerations or cuts on your gums, tongue, or cheeks due to direct impact on the area. While inspecting for these types of injuries, we also check the motion of your jaw to address any jaw dislocation.
Drs. Paul and Andrew Serrano, and their experienced team at Serrano Orthodontics have seen it all when it comes to busted lips and broken appliances from sports-related injuries. Although a true orthodontic emergency is uncommon, we strongly believe that avoiding tooth and mouth injuries in children while playing sports can be as simple as using protective gear like a mouthguard. Let’s go over some of the most common orthodontic emergencies.
There will likely come a time when your active kid falls victim to their first sports-related dental injury. Some patients may experience a more profound oral injury, such as luxation where a tooth may become displaced but still in the socket, or even an avulsion in which the tooth becomes wholly dislocated. Remember to stay calm and carefully examine the damage. Next, contact your orthodontist or dentist for specific instructions on mitigating the injury until they can see you in the office. Here are some of the more common injuries we see and how to best handle them.
A fractured tooth is often far scarier than the reality of the experience. To stabilize the broken or chipped tooth and control any bleeding, you can bite gently on a towel as you head to your dentist. If the tooth piece has completely come out of the mouth, it can be transported in milk, under your tongue, or wrapped in saline-soaked gauze.
If the whole tooth has come out of the socket, do not touch the roots and pick the tooth up by the crown. Gently rinse it in water and place the tooth back into the socket it came from, gently biting down on a towel to hold it in place as you head to the emergency dentist. As unbelievable as it may seem, a tooth placed back into the socket within five minutes of ejection can be permanently saved.
Extruded or Laterally Displaced Tooth
This injury will look like a tooth is longer than usual and often appears with the displaced tooth being pushed back or pulled forward. To reposition this tooth, firm but precise pressure is needed, and this process is most effectively performed by a dental professional.
If the tooth looks like it is now shorter than usual, it has likely pushed into the bone and become intruded. An intruded tooth is a painful experience and requires an immediate visit to an emergency dentist. Do not attempt to pull the tooth out or reposition the tooth.
While these are the most common dental emergencies children in sports are likely to face, these are not all possibilities. Make sure you contact your dentist immediately after an injury. Your dentist or orthodontist can completely remedy many mouth injuries caught in the first couple of hours without the risk of permanent damage. But, if your child develops a fever, has trouble breathing or swallowing, or their bleeding doesn’t stop after about ten minutes of pressure, it could be a more serious concern, and you should go to the closest emergency room.
Sports-Related Mouth Protection
According to a survey conducted by the American Association of Orthodontists, 99% of parents with children playing organized sports feel mouthguards should be required to play, yet nearly 40% of those parents said their child never wears one for practice or games. Still, the American Dental Association recommends using a properly fitting mouth guard for most contact and limited-contact sports.
Getting a kid to wear a mouthguard may seem as difficult as getting them to bed at a decent hour. Still, it is one of the most inexpensive ways to protect your child’s teeth, tongue, gums, and cheeks from trauma during their extra-curricular activities.
Orofacial and dental injuries are a risk for participants of all ages, genders, and skill levels during organized and unorganized sports at both recreational and competitive levels. While most dental injuries are sustained during collision and contact sports, they are also prevalent in limited-contact, non-contact, and high-velocity activities.
For straight AND safe smiles, turn to Serrano Orthodontics
Between essential life skills like time management and tenacity, regular exercise disguised as fun, and social and motor skill development, putting your kid in sports and extracurricular activities seems like a no-brainer. Still, the care shouldn’t stop at keeping water bottles full and getting them to practice on time.
Our doctors and experienced teams in Phoenix and Chandler, Arizona, don’t just straighten smiles. They focus on both the health and the aesthetics of your smile for long-lasting results! If you have questions about your child’s activity and orthodontic treatment, schedule a FREE consultation with us today!