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Taking the bite out of sports-related dental injuries

Dec 30, 2011

Anyone who has played sports or played a couch potato watching sports is familiar with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Only active sports participants though, may be familiar with another type of agony: the crack of a broken tooth or the crunch of displaced teeth.

In 2011 the National Youth Sports Foundation estimated more than 3 million teeth would be knocked out in youth sporting activities in 2011. The increasing participation of girls and young women in competitive sports will likely add to the number of dental injuries.

Best guess to the largest mouth-injuring sports? If you guessed synchronized swimming or croquet, go stand in the corner with the couch potatos that sustained dental injuries - presumably from falling off their couch.

Basketball and baseball are the sports with the worst record for mouth injuries, according to an associate professor of pediatric dentistry at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Hockey, soccer, karate, skating and skateboarding are other sports that account for a sizeable number of dental injuries.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General's office, sporting activities account for up to one-third of all craniofacial injuries. Many such injuries occur during practice, when participants fail to use mouth guards. Mouth guards should be worn any time a sports participant "suits up" but what should be done after a dental injury? Here's some quick tips that can help make the best of a bad situation:

1) If a tooth is broken or cracked, the child should see a dentist within 24 hours, according to UAB associate professor of pediatric dentistry Scott Mitchell. Mitchell says if the tooth has been displaced or knocked out, take the child to the ER and try to save the tooth.

2) A tooth that has been knocked out needs to be back in the mouth within 30-minutes for the best chance of saving it. If a tooth is knocked out, put it in a glass of milk because milk can provide nutrients to the tooth's cells to help sustain them. Do not put the tooth in water, Mitchell says, because water can cause the tooth's cells to burst.

3) Do not touch the tooth's root because they are easily damaged.

Mitchell adds that brushing the teeth and good oral hygiene following a mouth injury are extremely important because the cleaner the mouth is, the better it will heal.


Source: UAB News

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