What type of tooth damage can occur when a child plays sports?
Sports and various recreational activities can increase your child’s risk of tooth damage as a result of falls, collisions, and contact from sports equipment, or with other hard surfaces. It is possible for teeth to suffer various types of visible damage; they may be knocked out, chipped, fractured or displaced.
Following a hard bump that may leave no immediate visible damage, you may later notice your child’s tooth turn gray. In a baby tooth, this can occur as a result of blood from ruptured blood vessels showing through translucent tooth enamel. The discoloration may slowly clear up by itself as the blood dissolves. If the tooth does not clear up and your dentist confirms that it is only a cosmetic issue, the tooth will probably be left to fall out normally. If a permanent tooth becomes discolored following an injury, it is more likely to mean that the nerve is damaged and has started the degeneration process. When this occurs, the best option is usually a root canal.
It is always important that your child sees your dentist whenever you suspect dental injury, including when you notice any discoloration, to prevent further harm from the initial tooth damage.
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What should I do if my child’s tooth is knocked out?
If your child suffers an injury in which a permanent tooth is knocked out, it is important to do all you can to maintain the integrity of the tooth for the best chance of replanting. Find the tooth and rinse it gently in water only. If possible, place the tooth back in its socket and hold it in place with gauze or a clean washcloth. If the tooth cannot be put back in, submerge it in salty water. If that is not available, use saliva or water. Get your child and the tooth to your dentist immediately. The sooner you get them to the dentist the more likely the tooth can be saved.
If your child has a baby tooth knocked out, contact your dentist as soon as possible. Unlike a permanent tooth, a baby tooth should not be replanted. Replanting a knocked out baby tooth could damage your child’s developing permanent tooth.
Can I limit the risk of tooth damage if my child plays sports?
Children who play team sports should wear a protective mouth guard on the field for practice and games. If your child plays football, hockey, or lacrosse, it is likely that mouth guards are required. Mouth guards are very important for children who play baseball or softball. Mouth guards should also be used by children who participate in soccer, volleyball, wrestling, and martial arts. You may also want to consider a mouth guard if your child participates in gymnastics. Leisure activities such as bicycling, skateboarding, and inline or roller skating also pose a significant risk for tooth damage. You may consider requiring your child to wear a mouth guard for these activities as well.
How do I choose the best mouth guard for my child?
There are three basic types of mouth guard to limit the risk of sports-related tooth damage:
Over-the-counter stock mouth guards are considered the least effective option to limit the risk of teeth damage because they are bulky, ill-fitting, and can make breathing and talking difficult. However, they may be suggested if your child is young and in a phase of rapid baby-tooth loss and permanent-tooth growth.
So-called boil and bite mouth guards are made from thermoplastic material that, after being softened in boiling water, can be shaped around your teeth using pressure from your teeth and tongue.
Your dentist can provide the most effective option for most children. Custom-fitted soft plastic mouth guards provide the best protection for teeth, lips, cheeks and gums. You may even be able to protect your child from teeth damage with your team color!
Is Watertown Dentistry my best choice for dental care?
If you are in the Watertown, Cambridge, Belmont, or Newton, Massachusetts areas, Watertown Dentistry will provide you with the best professional pediatric dental services. We can treat any type of tooth damage and look forward to the opportunity to keep your whole family’s smiles looking beautiful!
Call us for more information (617) 600-3442