3 Ways to Prevent Sports Mouth Injuries
Kids can get into all kinds of trouble, and end up with any number of bumps and bruises. Parents should be especially aware of dental injuries and how to prevent them. Sports related accidents account for 13 percent of children’s dental injuries. But this fact shouldn’t prevent kids from playing sports. Physical activity is an important part of life. Parents should learn about common dental injuries and how to prevent them.
Before your child begins any new sport, discuss proper safety equipment with the coach. Many sports require the use of mouthguards, face masks, or helmets for protection. If these items aren’t required, you may choose to use them if appropriate. Ask your child’s dentist for specific product recommendations.
Below we discuss the three major ways to prevent mouth injury while playing sports.
1. Mouth guards
One of the most common and easy-to-use pieces of equipment, mouth guards are great for preventing damage to teeth. Chipped, broken, and lost teeth can easily occur while playing sports. All it takes is a ball kicked the wrong way or tripping and falling in the wrong direction for a dental injury to occur. Using a mouth guard can keep your child’s teeth safe.
Wearing a mouth guard during sports is officially recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA) as an effective way to prevent injury. When purchasing a mouth guard, be sure to ask your dentist for recommendations. Or check out this list of ADA approved products for your child.
2. Face masks
A mask is commonly found in sports like hockey or lacrosse. These activities require children to wear the mask for protection of their face and mouth. Without the mask, children run the risk of both teeth and jaw injuries. Masks usually have an outer “cage” that protects the face from being hit by a ball or other object.
If the sport your child chooses doesn’t require a mask, it probably isn’t necessary to use one. A mouth guard will work just fine. However, if a mask is required, it’s important to choose one that fits properly. If the safety mask is too loose, it could get knocked off your child’s head and cause injury. Consult with your child’s coach and a sporting goods professional to get the right fit.
A helmet may not directly cover your child’s mouth, but a head injury can have negative effects on the mouth on teeth. Many helmets even include protective coverings for the mouth. Sports such as cycling, dirt biking, skating, and skiing should all include the use of a helmet.
As with a face mask, a helmet with a proper fit is important. It’s also important for parents to get their kids in the habit of using a helmet whenever necessary. Too often kids will skip the helmet “just once,” which can result in injury. Good habits are important for safety in sports.
If you have additional safety concerns regarding sports and mouth injuries, be sure to consult with your child’s dentist and coach. Have fun out there!