Prevent and Prepare for Dental Avulsions and Other Sports-Related Injuries

Each year, people spend nearly $500,000,000 in the U.S. on medical care for dental avulsions. In dental terms, an avulsed tooth is a tooth that’s been knocked loose from its socket. Dental avulsion is one of many sports-related injuries that cause trauma to the face and teeth. If this happens to you, you have a dental emergency.

To prevent and prepare for sports-related dental emergencies takes some organization and planning. Here are some tips on avoiding mouth injuries, including dental avulsion.

Invest in Mouth Guards

Mouth guards are available in generic, universal versions and custom-made versions that precisely fit over teeth. Dentists also create a third type of mouth guard called a boil-and-bite model. They heat and then shape the mouth guard to fit inside the mouth.

  • Mouth guards help protect athletes from:
  • Lacerated lips and tongue
  • Chipped teeth
  • Fractured crowns and bridges
  • Lacerated cheek
  • Fractured jaw

Mouth guards don’t protect athletes from concussion, and they won’t completely protect the mouth and face from severe impacts. However, mouth guards do protect the teeth and jaw from many forms of hard sports contact.

Order two mouth guards and keep them sanitized. Bacteria, scratches, and rips in mouth guards can also cause dental injury and infection. Ask your dentist how to properly sanitize good mouth guards and when to replace worn mouth guards.

Use Your Judgment When Mouth Guards Aren’t Mandatory

In sports known to enforce mandatory mouth guard use, players have reduced dental injuries. However, many sporting associations and their officials don’t demand mouth guard use for their teams or individual sporting competitions.

Use your best judgment as a parent or a competitor when mouth guard use isn’t mandatory. While playing any contact sport, athletes must definitely wear a mouth guard. While engaging in any sport where you can make impact with another player, the ground, a ball, a wall, or any other object, a mouth guard is highly advised.

Wear mouth guards when competing in or practicing:

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Soccer
  • Field Hockey
  • Ice Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Gymnastics
  • Skateboarding

The above list is far from complete but contains several sports that have the majority of mouth injuries. According to one dental journal, three times as many injuries to the mouth and jaw occur on basketball courts than on football fields. The difference is an enforcement of mouth guard use.

Include Tooth Trauma Supplies in First Aid Kits

If you run a sports team, you’re an adult team member, or you’re a team member’s parent, stock your first aid kit with supplies to save avulsed and traumatized teeth. Ask your dentist for a list of necessary items you should keep in the kit if you’re unsure about your specific sport or dental status.

To treat a knocked-out tooth, have:

  • A bottle of normal saline
  • Tooth saving kit
  • Sterile gauze

When a tooth is avulsed, it has the best chance of reimplanting 5 to 10 minutes after leaving the socket. After an hour out in the air, the chance of reimplanting the tooth is slim.

Here are seven steps to follow after dental avulsion:

  1. Make sure the tooth or other object is not in the athlete’s airway.
  2. Use normal saline to lightly wash the athlete’s mouth where the trauma occurred.
  3. Be very gentle, and avoid touching any of the open socket.
  4. Pat away blood and normal saline using gauze and a light touch.
  5. Hold tooth by its crown and never by its root.
  6. Rinse debris off tooth.
  7. Replace tooth in socket by orienting to other teeth.

If the socket area is too traumatized to re-implant the tooth or the patient is not conscious, place the tooth in the tooth-saving kit, which includes a container you fill with a medium that keeps the tooth moist. Schedule an emergency dental exam and treatment immediately.

Schedule a fitting for custom mouth guards for all of your sporting endeavors this autumn and winter by contacting Vincent J. Picone, D.D.S.-PA. We offer dental guards and dental services for families and athletes in the North Bergen, New Jersey, region.