Dental implant FAQs
10 Facts about Dental Sports Injuries
As dental care specialists, we know more than most about the risk that certain sports can pose to healthy teeth. To help raise awareness, and hopefully avoid any unfortunate and preventable accidents, here are some eye-opening facts about dental sports injuries.
1. Playing sports increases statistical risk
Dental organisations in the USA estimate that between 19% and 39% of dental injuries happen during sports play. This figure increases to over a quarter of dental injuries depending on which professional body you ask. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself from tooth injuries in sports.
2. Athletic careers can bring injury
According to research, those pursuing athletic careers have a 33-56% chance of encountering a dental injury, with broken teeth and mouth abrasions among the most common types seen. Athletes involved in contact sports, meanwhile, see a 10% chance of dental injury per competitive season.
3. Protection is a proven good idea
An athlete is up to 60 times more likely to damage their teeth when not wearing mouth guard protection. The American Dental Association has estimated that approximately 200,000 mouth injuries are prevented each year as a result of faceguards and mouth guards.
4. Not all mouth guards are alike
There are different types of mouth guard, each of which offers differing levels of protection. The model most recommended by dental experts is the “custom-fit” mouth guard, involving a visit to dentist to make the perfect mould to match your teeth.
5. Mouth guards are highly recommended
Mouth guards do not only protect the teeth. They have also been shown to reduce trauma to the gums and surrounding jaw bone as well as decreasing the intensity and frequency of concussions or skull bone deformations. In the USA, mouth guards are now recommended or mandatory in sports which previously did not require them: baseball, basketball, bicycling, football (American and “soccer”), hockey, skating, wrestling and many more.
6. Bicycles and risks to children
In a large national survey, it was shown the most common consumer sports activity in the UK to produce dental injuries in children was bicycling. Find out how to protect your child from dental sports injuries.
7. Sugar in soft drinks and sports drinks
Many soft drinks – including those marketed as functional “sports drinks” – are packed with sugars and syrups which provide empty, non-nutritious calories. They also contribute to tooth corrosion and decay which can lead to an increased chance of sports injury.
8. Lost teeth can be saved
When a tooth is knocked out, during sports practice or otherwise, it may be possible to save it. This can be done by placing the tooth in a glass of milk or – if no milk is available – saliva, before seeking emergency care. If delivered in a short time, the tooth (or part of a damaged tooth) may be able to be reinserted by the dentist.
9. Sometimes a dentist isn’t enough
Dental injuries in sports can often be accompanied by other signs of trauma – from concussion and dizziness to headache, memory loss and even bleeding from the nose or ears. Any significant trauma around the head, neck or face area (including fractures of the skull and jaw) should be addressed by a hospital. Most hospitals employ an oral surgeon or specialist for this purpose.
10. Shocking dental injury figures
It is estimated that more than 5 million teeth per year are completely avulsed (totally lost) as a result of dental sports activity, while 15 million people annually suffer dental injuries of some description. Even spectators have been known to acquire traumatic dental injuries just by attending certain sports events!
It’s important to be aware of the potential risk that playing some sports can pose to healthy teeth. You can read our tips for prevention of dental injury in sports here.