Millions of teeth are lost each year through playing sports. A frightening thought isn't it? However, while you may think that only adults are at risk from losing teeth during sporting activities, children and young adults are also extremely vulnerable. So if you, or your child, is involved in physical activities, here's a simple tooth care guide for people who play sports.
Wear a Sports Guard
The easiest way to prevent damage to the teeth and mouth is by wearing a sports guard. Known by several different names, including mouth guards and mouth protectors, a sports guard is a simple appliance that's worn over your teeth to protect them from impact. They're an important piece of equipment for anyone who participates in sports that involve body contact, falls or flying equipment. So if you play sports such as football, rugby, hockey, mountain biking, judo, or even skateboarding, to name a few, you might want to consider getting a mouth guard. Mouth guards work by covering the top teeth to protect wearers from chipped and broken teeth, cuts to the lips and other damage to the mouth, plus they can even prevent concussion. An effective sports guard should cover all teeth and, depending on your bite, your gums too. Normally they are not worn on the bottom teeth, although if you wear a brace or a bridge, your dentist may recommend that you wear a protector on your lower teeth too. There are several different types of mouth guards to choose from but, bear in mind that, in addition to being tear-resistant and resilient, it should fit properly and be comfortable.
There are 3 different types of sports guards:
- Stock mouth guards - the most inexpensive type of mouth guard, stock mouth guards are ready to wear. Because of this, they're unlikely to fit well particularly if you have crooked teeth. What's more, they often feel bulky in the mouth and can make talking and breathing difficult.
- Boil and bite mouth guards - designed to be moulded to fit your teeth by boiling it in water, the boil and bite mouth guard generally offers a better fit than stock sports guards.
- Custom-made mouth guards - as the name suggests these are designed and made to fit your mouth, and so will offer the most comfort and protection out of the three different kinds available. You can even have them made in your team colours. However, as they are custom made, they're also the most expensive to buy.
Over time mouth guards wear down and become less effective, therefore you should ideally replace your sports guard at the beginning of each new season. This is particularly important for teenagers and young children as their teeth and mouths will grow and change shape. While this may seem expensive, mouth guards don't only protect the teeth and mouth, but they can prevent jaw injuries too, and any mouth guard is better than none at all.
What happens if my tooth gets knocked out?
Don't panic! As long as you can recover the tooth, there's a good chance that it can be successfully replanted. If possible, stick it back in the socket or, if that's not possible, dunk it in some milk or a mild saltwater solution.
Help! My teeth are turning brown from swimming
Many competitive swimmers find that their teeth become stained by brownish deposits. Known as swimmers calculus, this can be easily rectified by having your teeth cleaned professionally.
Prevent tooth decay by hydrating with water
We all know that playing sports is thirsty work, but resist the urge to quench your thirst with a sugary drink, as this is likely to increase your chances of developing tooth decay. Reach for the water instead. Your teeth will thank you for it. Keeping your teeth safe and healthy during sport is all about taking a little extra care. Follow our tips and you'll be less likely to suffer problems with your teeth and mouth when you play sport.