Sports Most Likely to be Responsible for Tooth Damage

A lot of parents today worry that their kids spend too much time glued to their devices. If they’re not texting or snap-chatting, they’re playing video games. All this screen time concerns parents because it seems to affect social skills, world views, and fitness levels.


The more time kids spend vegging out, the more likely they are to overeat unhealthy foods, and that creates an added risk of obesity. But then there are parents at the other end of the spectrum, parents whose kids are heavily involved in competitive sport.

These parents spend the bulk of their time and budget shuttling kids between games and practice sessions. They also use a good chunk of cash on sports gear. The upside is that these children become fit, healthy, and competitive. They make good friends, develop like-minded networks, and get exposed to opportunities for scholarships and professional play.

They also risk injuries which can affect their budding sports careers, not to mention giving their parents sleepless nights and high hospital bills. And this issue isn’t restricted to kids. Teen and adult athletes are equally vulnerable to debilitating sports injuries.

While this is part of the territory for typical sports people, there are some things that can be done to improve safety standards. Many sports require protective gear as part of the team’s uniform. This gear includes helmets, shin guards, jock straps, and mouth guards.

The average parent might think shin guards are just for rough contact sports like boxing and Aussie Rules, but the Australian Dental Association (ADA) has a much longer list. According to them, the list of sports that require mouth guards include:

• Baseball
• Basketball
• Bike riding
• Boxing
• Cricket
• Football
• Hockey
• Horse riding
• Lacrosse
• Netball
• Rugby
• Skateboarding
• Skating
• Snow ski racing
• Soccer
• Softball
• Squash
• Trampoline
• Water polo
• Water Skiing

mouth guard

You probably think the mouth guards simply protect players’ teeth from falling out, but they serve other functions as well. Mouth guards can reduce the risk of concussion by offering shock absorption in case of falls and bumps. They cushion the jaw, soft tissue, and neck.

Some kids might refuse to wear a mouth guard because it looks geeky, while some parents may be unable to afford new ones every season. After all, their kids’ teeth are growing, and mouth guards have to be tailored to each child’s dental formula.

But even with all this going against them, mouth guards are essential in keeping kids’ safe, and if they prevent concussions, they could end up saving a child’s life. In certain ‘masculine’ sports like football, the mouth guard is a standard part of the intimidatingly macho kit, so if this attitude could spread to other sports, it may help prevent injury.

There are three main kinds of tooth injuries that occur as a result of rough sports. When you think of sports injuries, you probably think of chipped, misshapen teeth. Maybe the player had a rough tackle and a small piece of the tooth broke off. Though this has a dramatic visual effect, it’s usually benign and isn’t one of the three main worries for a dentist.

The first key injury is actually a cracked tooth. It may or may not be visible, and it might stay on the surface or extend into the deeper layers of the tooth. When a player cracks his or her tooth, they may experience sensitivity and intermittent pain. Sometimes the outer surface chips and flakes off.

If the cracks remain on the surface there’s no harm beyond a crooked smile. But if the crack goes into the dentin or pulp, it can cause an infection and might need a root canal or extraction to resolve. That’s the second problematic injury – a fractured root. It’s often not visible on the surface, and may not be noticed at all.

Unfortunately, most sports people only notice their root fractures after they have been infected, because the infection causes intense pain. The dentist would then have to either pull the teeth out or perform surgery on the root itself.

The third injury is one you probably don’t hear about very often. A player gets injured, and instead of the tooth falling out, it gets driven deeper into the gums. This is called intrusion. It happens more often with milk teeth than grown permanent ones.

Tooth intrusion ends in one of three ways. The tooth might ‘die’, killing off the pulp and blood vessels of the tooth. Two, the tooth might be re-absorbed at the root level, which makes the tooth shorter. Or three, the root might completely fuse itself to the bone.

None of these dental injuries is fun, especially for younger sports people, so save yourself some trouble and make sure your kids wear that mouth guard. Also, if he or she does bump her head, don’t just check for broken bones. Pay a crucial visit to the dentist as well.

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