Sports Safety for Kids Mouths & Orthodontic Emergencies

From encouraging exercise to teaching essential life skills, sports offer a wealth of benefits for kids! While your young athletes are out on the field, you want to ensure their winning smiles are safe. The risk of a ball or body part hitting someone in the mouth is always there in sports, regardless of the age of the athletes. If your child has braces, a retainer, or clear aligners, they need adequate protection to avoid injuries and permanent mouth damage.

Timock Family Orthodontics wants to keep your kids safe while they’re having fun. Our team is prepared for any pit-stop your superstar athletes need. Whether it’s cut lips or a broken appliance, we want to help with any sports-related mouth injuries. The solution for many sports-related injuries can be as simple as using the proper protective gear.

Sports and Dental Injuries

Here’s something to think about: 40% of all dental injuries in the United States are sports-related. You may expect mouth injuries in sports with lots of high-speed contact and collisions. However, sports-related accidents can happen regardless of the game! A fall during a solo sport like skateboarding can result in a chipped tooth or broken bracket.

Young patients visiting Timock Family Orthodontics can continue participating in their favorite sports even during treatment. However, checking your child’s appliances is essential if you have an accident while playing. If the appliances look damaged or your teeth are loose or falling, schedule an appointment for repair as soon as possible.

We aim to provide your child with early treatment and a quick assessment. The most common injury we see is tooth fractures, also known as a “chipped tooth.” We also see soft tissue lacerations or cuts on the gums, tongue, or cheeks due to a direct impact on the area. While we check for these types of injuries, we examine the motion of your child’s jaw to address any jaw dislocation. Some patients may experience more severe oral health injuries. A tooth can be displaced but still in the socket or even an avulsion in which the tooth becomes wholly dislocated. 

Sports-Related Mouth Protection

According to a survey from the American Association of Orthodontists, 99% of parents with children playing organized sports believe mouthguards should be required to play. However, close to 40% of those parents said their children never wear one for practice or games. 

It can be challenging to help your child get started and get into the habit of keeping a mouthguard before a game. Still, it is one of the inexpensive ways to protect your child’s teeth, tongue, gums, and cheeks from trauma during extra-curricular activities. 

Orofacial injuries risk participants of all ages, genders, and skill levels. Most dental injuries are sustained during collision and contact sports, whether organized and unorganized sports, recreational and competitive levels, school, or kids’ leagues. Still, they are also prevalent in limited-contact, non-contact, and high-velocity activities.

The American Dental Association recommends the use of a properly fitting mouthguard in the following activities:

Contact/Collision Sports

  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Combat Sports
  • Football
  • Handball
  • Hockey (Ice and Field)
  • Lacrosse
  • Martial Arts
  • Rugby
  • Soccer
  • Water Polo
  • Wrestling

Limited Contact and Other Sports

  • Acrobatics
  • Baseball
  • Bicycling
  • Equestrian Events
  • Field Events
  • Gymnastics
  • Inline Skating
  • Racquetball
  • Shot-Putting
  • Skateboarding
Sports Safety for Kids Mouths & Orthodontic Emergencies

Choosing and Caring for your Mouthguards

There are many different options available for mouthguards. According to the ADA Council of Scientific Affairs and Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention, an ideal mouthguard should:

  • Stay in place comfortably and securely
  • Have high-impact energy absorption to reduce or limit transmitted forces upon impact
  • Be relatively easy to clean
  • Be physiologically compatible with the wearer
  • Be adequately fitted to the wearer’s mouth and accurately adapted to their oral structures
  • Be made of resilient material approved by the FDA and cover all remaining teeth on one arch

If your young athlete is currently receiving orthodontic treatment, speak with one of our orthodontists. We will ensure the mouthguard will fit over their appliances and not damage the device or harm their mouth if an impact occurs. 

Your child will know they have a good fit if it is comfortable, offers adequate coverage, and doesn’t interfere with speaking or breathing. The three most common types of mouthguards are stock (also called “pre-made”), custom-made, and mouth-formed. Let’s take a look at each of these options:

Stock Mouthguards

Also known as “pre-made,” this is the most common mouthguard. They are widely available, and you will likely find them in a sporting goods store. These mouthguards come in various sizes and colors to suit a variety of mouths. However, the stock mouthguard is considered the least effective option because it has a generic design that may not fit every individual’s mouth. This gives it an improper fit and requires the mouth to be shut to keep it in place. 

Custom-made Mouthguards

Custom mouthguards are made in an orthodontic lab or dental office from individual patient impressions. Our team uses thermoforming techniques to make them fully customized and provide wearers with the best fit to adapt to their mouths. This is often the most expensive option for oral protection, but the balanced occlusion and maximized tooth contact significantly reduce the risk of the mouthguard becoming displaced while playing sports.

Mouth-formed Mouthguards

Also called “boil-and-bite,” these mouthguards are designed to be warmed in water briefly to become permeable and then cooled. Once the cooling is done, they are placed in the mouth and bitten down to create a customized fitting. These can usually be found in sporting goods stores or online. A dental professional may help facilitate the proper forming around dental appliances if needed. Follow all the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure adequate heating and molding of the thermoplastic material. Avoid improper shaping, creating a poorly fitted device with diminished protection.

Orthodontic Emergencies

​​When your superstar has their first sports-related dental injury, we want you to be prepared. Remember to stay calm and carefully examine and take note of the damage to be explained to the dental professional. Contact Dr. Timock for instructions on mitigating the injury until they see you in the office. Let’s look at some of the most common injuries we see and how to handle them.

Extruded or Laterally Displaced Tooth 

When this injury occurs, it will look like a tooth is longer than usual. It often appears with the displaced tooth being pushed back or pulled forward. To reposition this tooth, place firm but precise pressure on it. This process can be painful and is best performed by a dental professional. 

Missing Tooth

If the whole tooth comes out of your child’s socket, do not touch the roots and pick the tooth up by the crown. Gently rinse it in water and place the tooth back into the socket it came from, gently biting down on a towel to hold it in place as you head to the emergency dentist. A tooth can be permanently saved if placed back into the socket within five minutes of ejection.

Fractured Tooth

This experience can feel scarier than the reality of it. To stabilize the broken or chipped tooth and control any bleeding, your child can bite gently on a towel as you take them to the dentist. If the tooth piece has come out of their mouth completely, it can be transported in milk, under their tongue, or wrapped in saline-soaked gauze. 

Intruded Tooth

If the tooth looks shorter than usual, it may have been pushed into the bone and become intruded. This can be a painful experience and requires an immediate visit to an emergency dentist. Do not attempt to pull the tooth out. 

While these are the most common dental emergencies children have in sports, they are not the only possibilities. Make sure you get to your dentist as soon as possible after an injury. Your dentist or orthodontist can remedy many mouth injuries caught in the first couple of hours without permanent damage. Check if your child develops a fever, has trouble breathing or swallowing, or their bleeding doesn’t stop after about ten minutes of pressure. This could be a more severe problem, and you should go to the closest emergency room.

Sports Safety for Kids Mouths & Orthodontic Emergencies

Trust your smile to Timock Family Orthodontics

Your smile needs an expert team to keep it in pristine condition. Timock Family Orthodontics wants you to have an informed and stress-free orthodontic experience with our team of eager and well-trained doctors.

If you’re interested in seeking orthodontic treatment from us, get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Timock. Excellent orthodontic care is only a few minutes from your home, work, or school with offices in Fort Collins and Windsor. There’s never been a better time!