Sports can be very rough on your body and teeth if they are not protected. There are also many ways that your mouth and teeth can be damaged. Dental emergencies happen often in sports, and they can occur to players at any age. This may lead you to need sports dentistry in a hurry.
When a dental emergency occurs, you often need to be able to find a dentist within an hour, though some injuries can wait longer. Knowing what to do on the spot can help save a tooth and a smile. Some things that may occur to you or your child while engaging in sports and what you should do immediately include the following.
When a tooth is chipped or cracked, you will need to see a dentist. This is especially true if the crack is wide and you can see the pulp underneath. You will need to see the dentist as soon as possible. A tooth that has a wide crack in it is subject to infection and it will need to be filled to seal infection out.
Rinse your mouth with warm, slightly salty water and you may apply cold compresses to your cheek if there is swelling. If the tooth is sensitive, stay away from cold and hot foods. Stick to soft foods.
A crack in a tooth may also not be repairable. If the crack extends into the root of the tooth it is possible that it cannot be saved – but only the dentist will be able to tell. An x-ray of the tooth will be needed to reveal how deep it goes.
When you have a chipped tooth or a broken tooth, try to locate the pieces and bring them to the dentist. If you get there soon enough, the dentist may be able to replace the chip and bond it to the tooth.
A minor chip or crack is often repairable. The dentist will seal the crack or repair the chipped tooth with bonding material. If it is a front tooth, the dentist may use bonding material to repair it.
A chipped tooth that lets you see the pulp of the tooth also needs immediate dental care. The dentist may need to provide more involved care than simply putting bonding material on it.
When a tooth is knocked out while playing sports, you need to pick it up to take to the dentist. Be careful only to pick it up by the crown of the tooth and not by the roots. If the tooth has dirt on it, rinse it gently with water, but do not scrub it.
If the person is awake and conscious, try and replace the tooth in the socket. Do not use force. It can be held in place by gently biting down on it with a towel or handkerchief. If it will not go (be sure the tooth is not reversed), place it in a medium such as cold milk, or in saliva from the person the tooth came from. You can also use water that is slightly salty.
The tooth needs to be taken to the dentist’s office within 30 minutes. After that, it may be doubtful that reimplantation will be successful.
Contact the dentist’s office right away and let them know that you are coming. The dentist can have staff ready which will ensure fast treatment that may enable the tooth to be saved.
Once you get to the office, the dentist will examine the site. If the tooth is not in the socket, which may be x-rayed, the dentist will try and replant it. A splint will be used to hold it steady so healing can take place. It will take about two weeks to find out if it healed successfully.
Champion Dental has emergency dentists that can handle your sports dental emergency. They have had years of experience and walk-ins are welcome.
Another type of sports injury that can occur is that a tooth can become displaced (also called dislocated). This results in a tooth that is still in the socket but it may be higher or lower than normal. It may also be twisted or angled, but it has not been completely knocked out of the socket.
Try and move the tooth back into position, but only if it has been pushed up or sideways. If it has been pushed into the gums, do not try and move it – let the dentist do it. If it is too painful to try and reposition it, let the dentist give some anesthesia and then move it.
You can stabilize the tooth by gently biting down on a handkerchief or towel. Try and get to the dentist as soon as you can.
If there is swelling and pain, use a cold compress on the cheek. Apply it using 20 minutes on followed by 20 minutes off.
When you get to the dentist’s office, the dentist will examine the area surrounding the injury to ensure there is no other damage. The tooth will be moved into position (if it is not already there) and a splint will be put on the tooth to stabilize it.
A root canal treatment will likely be necessary. The dentist may not start on it for a couple of weeks. If the tooth root was damaged, it may not survive and tooth replacement options may be necessary – such as a dental bridge or dental implant.
One way to prevent dental injuries while playing sports is for your child to wear a sports guard. They are readily available in many sports stores and can protect your child’s teeth.
The best kind of sports guard is one that is made by the dentist. These are made from a mold of your child’s teeth and will be a precise fit. They will give your child the best protection and will feel more comfortable than a general store brand.
Children engaged in many sports should wear them. Wherever there is going to be contact involved, or a ball or puck or anything that is lifted into the air, it can hit your child in the mouth and damage a good smile. Sports, where a mouthguard should be worn, include football, hockey, boxing or martial arts, biking, basketball, baseball, skateboarding, gymnastics, etc.
Another good reason to wear a sports guard is that it is cheaper than having to replace a tooth. Repairing a child’s smile (or an adult’s) can be expensive.
If a child wears braces, a sports guard may be able to prevent injury from a broken wire. The dentist will need to make it with this in mind so that it will fit over the braces. A child should not wear any removable retainers or other dental appliances while playing sports.
Champion Dental can make sports guards for anyone that needs to protect their teeth from sports injuries. We also provide emergency dental treatments when needed and can be reached 24/7.
The dentists at Champion Dental offer sports dentistry and can help you and your children maintain a healthy smile. Regular dental checkups can help spot problems early and ensure good teeth. Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist, has been practicing dentistry for over 25 years. You can set up a consultation or get more information about sports dentistry, by contacting his office.