Are you a contact sports athlete? If yes, protecting your oral health should be the top priority. You may not always think about it while out on the field or on the court, but dental injuries are incredibly common in contact sports and can have lasting effects if left untreated.
Contact sports such as football, hockey, rugby, basketball, and soccer all carry an increased risk of oral injuries, including broken and chipped teeth, jaw fractures, and other trauma to the mouth. When athletes sustain these types of injuries, they can lead to more serious issues such as infection or loss of tooth structure.
In this article, we’ll discuss why oral health is so important for athletes, what risks are involved with contact sports, and how athletes can best protect themselves from dental injuries and subsequent complications.
The Risks of Contact Sport to Oral Health
The most common types of oral injuries sustained by athletes participating in contact sports are dental fractures, lacerations, and avulsions.
Dental fractures occur when a blow to the face or head causes the tooth enamel to crack, allowing bacteria to enter. This can lead to infection, decay, and even tooth loss.
Lacerations occur when the soft tissues in the mouth become lacerated by a blow or object. These cuts can lead to excessive bleeding and require immediate medical attention. When the laceration is in close contact with a tooth, it can increase the risk of infection and other complications.
Avulsions occur when an impact causes teeth to be knocked out or displaced from their sockets. This type of injury requires prompt action from a dental professional as the teeth may need to be replanted if they are still viable.
Protecting Yourself from Oral Injuries in Contact Sports
Fortunately, there are several steps athletes can take to protect themselves from dental injuries and other oral health issues stemming from contact sports.
The most important step is wearing the proper equipment, such as a helmet, faceguard, or mouthpiece for sports like football and hockey. For sports like soccer and basketball, athletes should wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth from blows and collisions.
It’s also important to take breaks if you are feeling any discomfort or pain in your teeth or jaw after contact with an opponent. This can help prevent dental injuries from worsening over time. Just like with any other injury, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you experience dental trauma.
Finally, athletes should make sure they are getting regular check-ups from their dentist to ensure that any problems can be caught and treated quickly. This is especially important for contact sports athletes who may be at increased risk of dental injuries.
The Role of Mouthguards in Preventing Oral Injuries
Mouthguards are an essential piece of equipment for athletes participating in contact sports. They help cushion the blow of impacts and prevent teeth from chipping, cracking, or becoming displaced.
Mouthguards also provide protection to the gums, lips, cheeks, tongue, and roof of the mouth. In addition, they help reduce the risk of concussion by absorbing some of the impacts and reducing the chance of a player’s head hitting the ground or another object.
When choosing a mouthguard, it is important to make sure it fits properly and comfortably. You should also ensure that your mouthguard is made from medical-grade materials as these provide the most protection.
Now that you understand the risks of contact sports to oral health, as well as the steps athletes can take to protect themselves, make sure to prioritize your oral health when participating in such sports. Wear the proper protective gear, seek medical attention if necessary, and visit your dentist regularly for check-ups. Doing so will help ensure that you have a healthy smile for years to come.
By taking the time to prioritize your oral health, you can help keep yourself safe while participating in contact sports and enjoy them for years to come.