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Sports Safety

As children grow, sports activities can become a bigger part of everyday life. While enriching and a great way to stay active and healthy, some sports can be hazardous and increase a child's risk for oral injuries. Understanding how to prevent sports-related injuries to the mouth, as well as what to do in the event of a dental emergency, can help your child stay safe and healthy while enjoying sports.

Preventing Sports Injuries

There are many sports and athletic activities that require or recommend mouth guards. High-impact sports like wrestling, football, or hockey can present high-risk scenarios for dental injury, so an important step in preventative care is to wear a mouth guard. Discussing upcoming sports with a pediatric dentist can help them make the best recommendations on choosing mouth guards along with advice on proper use and fit, cleaning, and what to do in the event of a dental injury.

What to Do in an Emergency

Some sports accidents can result in oral injury to the teeth, cheeks, lips, gums, or tongue. Understanding the proper responses to injury can help to minimize adverse outcomes. First, it's important to assess the situation. To any bleeding injury, apply immediate compression, and if possible, ice to reduce swelling.

There are times when it is best to call a child's pediatric dentist or visit an emergency room. These scenarios include uncontrollable bleeding from the lip, tongue, cheek, or gums, if there are any broken bones, or after a severe blow to the head. Broken or knocked out teeth (baby or permanent) should be immediately reported to a pediatric dentist.

In the case of a knocked out permanent tooth, quick action is critical to save the tooth. After rinsing the tooth gently with water and nothing else, attempt to fit it back into its socket, hold it there with a clean cloth or gauze, and call the pediatric dentist immediately. If the tooth cannot be replaced into the mouth, or if the child is very young, it can be transported to the dentist in a cup of milk, water, or the child's saliva. Transport part of a chipped tooth in these liquids as well. With a rapid response, it is very possible to save a chipped or knocked out permanent tooth. A knocked out baby tooth also warrants an immediate call to the dentist, however, do not attempt to replace a baby tooth into its socket to minimize damage to the developing permanent tooth.

The best way to protect your child's oral health during sports is to practice good preventative care, which includes wearing protective gear such as mouth guards and helmets. Keeping the emergency line for your pediatric dentist handy is also an important way to minimize response time in the event of an injury. Discussing sports activities with a pediatric dentist is the best way to review risks, injury prevention, and emergency care ensure that a child has a positive and safe experience while enjoying athletics.

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