Hey Kid, Watch Your Mouth!
Children's traumatic dental injuries and knocked-out teeth are often associated with football or hockey, but other sports, such as baseball and soccer, can present just as big a risk. In fact, soccer players are approximately eight times more likely to suffer dental injuries compared with football players, and nearly 20 percent of baseball players will experience a dental injury, according to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE). So the AAE is urging all young athletes to "watch their mouth" when playing sports.?
An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer a dental injury, such as a knocked-out tooth, when not wearing a protective mouth guard, and the number of sports-related dental injuries is on the rise. The AAE urges all coaches and parents to enforce mouth-guard use in an effort to protect young athletes' natural teeth. In fact, they recommend mouth guards for all sports, including lacrosse, softball, track and field and gymnastics.
Mouth guard usage prevents an estimated 200,000 injuries a year, according to the AAE. "Mouth guards are not just for kids that play rough contact sports," says Shepard S. Goldstein, D.M.D, AAE president and an endodontist from Framingham, Mass. "It is essential that children's teeth be protected from dental injury when they play any physical sport."
Mouth guards are available in three common varieties: the stock, or "one-size-fits-all" mouth guard; the mouth-formed "boil-and-bite" mouth guard; and dentists' custom- made mouth guard.
Although custom mouth guards professionally fitted by a dentist offer the best protection from dental injury, any type of mouth guard helps to safeguard natural teeth and reduce the chance of trauma to the mouth. When using mouth guards, it is very important to properly maintain and clean them to prevent any possible infections.
In the event that a tooth is knocked out or injured, an endodontist should be consulted as soon as possible to increase the chances of saving the natural tooth. Endodontists are experts in treating traumatic tooth injuries and they specialize in root-canal treatment, the procedure commonly needed to successfully repair and ultimately save the tooth.
When a tooth is knocked out, the AAE recommends the following steps to increase the likelihood that the natural tooth can be preserved:
• Pick up the tooth by the chewing surface, not the root. Avoid handling the root to minimize injury.
• If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse with water. Do not use soap or chemicals or scrub the tooth and do not dry it by wrapping it in cloth or a tissue. Reposition the tooth in the socket, if possible. Carefully push the tooth into the socket and close the mouth slowly. Hold the tooth in place with your fingers or by gently biting down on it.
• Keep the tooth moist. If the tooth cannot be replaced in the socket, place it in a glass of milk or in the mouth next to the cheek. If these options are not practical, use water with a pinch of salt.
• See an endodontist within 30 minutes. Seeking treatment from a root-canal specialist can greatly improve the chances of successfully saving the tooth. Though it is possible to save the tooth even if it has been outside the mouth for 30 minutes or more, the chances of success decline the longer the tooth is out of the mouth.