The Best Ways to Protect Your Children’s Teeth in Sports

Over 50 million children play sports in the United States. Playing sports is an amazing way to keep your child fit and healthy. According to Stanford Medicine, sports activity helps reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.  However, along with the benefits can come some risks. One major risk for children playing sports is broken or knocked out teeth. According to The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) five million teeth are lost per year due to sports-related dental injuries. Subsequently, $500 million is spent on teeth extractions, dental implants, and other related procedures to fix sports-related dental injuries. A knocked-out tooth or jaw injury is of course painful for your child — and oral surgery and other dental procedures can be costly too. But please don’t let all these statistics make you nervous. Instead, you can take these proactive steps to keep your child safe!

Here are the top 4 ways to protect your children’s teeth while playing sports.

Buy a Mouth Guard

A study of high school athletes found that seventy-five percent of injuries occurred when mouth guards were not worn, and forty percent occurred during baseball and basketball. Fifty-six percent of all concussions were suffered when mouth guards were not worn. Trauma-related to sports is more prevalent than previously reported. Mouth guards are one of the cheapest and easiest ways to protect an athlete’s teeth. Without one, a child is 60 times more likely to sustain a tooth or jaw-related injury. Statistics show that on average during a sports season there is a 10% chance of an injury occurring.

Still, a majority of parents say their children don’t wear mouth guards during sporting activities. If your kid plays a contact sport like football, basketball, hockey, volleyball, martial arts, boxing, lacrosse, or wrestling, they should always wear a mouth guard to protect their head, teeth, and jaw from injury.

At Perfect Smile our dentists provide custom-fitted mouth guards that are comfortable and stay in place unlike store-bought brands. A custom-fitted mouth guard provides additional benefits such as guarding against fractures and jaw injuries, durable and tear-resistant, they also won’t restrict breathing or speech.

A custom sport mouth guard at Perfect Smile can be fast to create and only $350. Contact our office at (702) 387-6453 or visit our website to book an appointment

Consider also speaking with your child’s sports coach about assigning mouth guards as a standard uniform for the team. It’s always easier to get kids to wear protective gear when their entire team is doing it, plus it’s much cheaper for parents to buy a mouth guard than it is to pay for a dental emergency. Our dentists would be happy to speak with a coach to inform them about the safety benefits of custom-fitted mouth guards.

Use Shock-Absorbing Playground Material

The environment where your kids play can make a big difference in their risk for bumps, bruises, and knocked-out teeth.

Goal posts, basketball hoops, and other hard poles should be wrapped in rubber or foam to offer to cushion upon impact. This padding can save your child’s teeth and jaw from injuries if they run into them in the heat of the game.

The floor or ground where your child plays sports can also be a potential hazard. When possible, there are preferable areas to designate for playing sports. For field sports, try to find fields or parks that are well-maintained and have plenty of grass. A dry, dirt surface is harder on impact and can cause more damage to the mouth. Grass, mulch or sand make for much softer impact than gravel or concrete. Also make sure that the material is deep enough in places like sandboxes or grass-pits, so a fall doesn’t result in a knocked-out tooth.

Always Make Your Child Wear Protective Gear

If your child plays any contact sport including football, lacrosse, or baseball then they should already be wearing a helmet when they hit the field. That’s great news for parents, as helmets help absorb the impact of falls and collisions, helping prevent damage to your athlete’s head, jaw, and teeth.

If your child enjoys skiing or snowboarding when winter hits, make sure they always pack their helmet. Wearing a helmet while skiing or snowboarding has shown to cut the chance of injury in half.

If your kid likes to bike, you may think everything is already square with their helmet, but some studies have shown that modern designs for bicycle helmets may have reduced their efficacy in protection. Consider instead having your child wear a skateboard helmet if you intend to protect them from brain or jaw-related injuries when they hit the pavement on a bike, skateboard or rollerblades. Also always remember to replace a helmet after a major crash or if any dents or cracks develop.

Don’t forget about wrist guards or elbow and knee pads either. These not only help protect injuries to your child they are skating or biking, but they can also help reduce bone-on-bone or bone-on-tooth contact in team sports like wrestling, volleyball, and hockey.

Teach Safe Play Rules and Habits

Beyond providing and encourage your little athlete to wear protective equipment, teaching your child proper sports safety conduct will make a massive difference in preventing injury during games. Teach your kid how to play safe, how to avoid potential injury when they’re on the field, and make sure your child is playing a sport that is supervised by a coach who prioritizes safe play.

Additionally, emphasizing the importance of good sportsmanship can help your young athlete keep their cool during a game and prevent acting aggressively or irresponsibly.