Sports are a great way to stay active, but some can actually pose unique risks to your dental health. Dental injuries that are due to sports are quite common. Most of these injuries affect the upper front teeth, but there can also be some damage to the tongue and cheeks. One of the most common injuries is a tooth fracture but, depending on the sport, fully dislodged and loosened teeth can also be common. Teenagers are more likely to suffer from dental injuries, but the risk extends to anyone who plays a contact sport.
Your Biggest Sports Risks to Your Teeth
Sports where there is more contact put you at a greater risk for a dental injury. Some of these sports include marital arts, hockey, football, basketball, baseball, boxing, wrestling, lacrosse, rugby, and soccer. Even if it isn’t a contact sport, you should still wear protection because even a minor mouth injury could be costly and painful and end up requiring repair work or even dental implants.
You should still be aware of your dental health when participating in sports that you wouldn’t necessarily think could cause a problem, such as swimming. While you don’t necessarily risk breaking a tooth with this sport, unless you bump into the wall, longer periods in the pool can be dangerous to your teeth if the swimming pool is not well maintained. If the pH balance of the swimming pool is lower, which means it’s too acidic, then you could be at risk for “swimmers’ calculus,” which makes your teeth sensitive and appear more yellow and you can suffer from excessive enamel erosion. Besides swimming in a well-maintained swimming pool, closing your mouth when you swim so that the water doesn’t come in contact with your teeth as often can help.
If you are doing other solo sports, such as skiing, skating, or bicycling, then you don’t have as much risk of being hit in the tooth with equipment or another person. However, you still run the risk of falling and being injured.
Mouthguards and Safety Gear to Protect Your Teeth
A mouth guard is one of the most important things you can use when playing contact sports. This involves any sport that involves sticks, balls, bats, or person-to-person contact. There are inexpensive mouth guards for sale over the counter, but it’s important to note that not all mouth guards are going to be one size fits all. While these over-the-counter options can be budget friendly, they don’t offer the best protection and many can be uncomfortable.
If the mouth guard isn’t fitting right and is uncomfortable, the chances of you wearing it are smaller. A better option is to go to your dentist to create a custom mouth guard. While this can be a more expensive option, it’s the best option in order to properly protect your dental health for years to come.
The second option for safety gear is a helmet with a face guard. This is usually required equipment in sports such as hockey and football. It’s important to pick the right helmet based on the sport. A helmet for cyclists isn’t going to be right if you are playing football, while a football helmet isn’t a good idea for baseball.
Caring for Your Mouth Guard
In order to properly protect your teeth and make sure your mouth guard will last, you need to take care of it. Be sure to rinse it with cold water after each use and air-dry it. Occasionally, you may want to clean it with water and mild soap or with mouthwash. Store the mouth guard in a plastic container so that it doesn’t have damage from cold or heat when not in use. Wear your mouth guard properly and don’t chew on it or alter it in anyway. Check it regularly to see if there are any signs of wear or cracks that could weaken it. If it no longer fits well because the bite has been changed, then you might need a new one or have it adjusted by your dentist. Believe us, it’s much easier to maintain your safety equipment than it is to wind up with a broken tooth or an injury that could require extraction, a dental bridge, or other similar procedure.