24 Hour Emergency Dentist Hotline
0203 750 5307
Please fill in all fields
Your message has been sent successfully!

Dental Sports Injuries

There are footballers and rugby players who take out false teeth – one, two or three maybe – before they go out on to the field of play, while it is on record that one cricket umpire had a full set handed to him for safe keeping when a batsman went out to face some particularly hostile fast bowling on a very hostile pitch.

In some cases the loss of teeth may have been unavoidable, but in others it may be a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, because there are precautions that sports people can take before they face the rough and tumble of the action.

What can be done to protect your teeth?

Wear a mouthguard is the obvious answer. But they do differ in quality and suitability, so take care to choose one that is not only of a high standard, but also best for your particular sport.

The experts suggest that a mouthguard should be at least 4mm thick if it is to provide adequate protection, and, of course, it needs to be comfortable to wear.

That being so, it is advisable to avoid the cheaper versions unless you are young, and still growing. In that case, the mouthguard needs changing regularly so it would be wasteful to keep on buying the dearer replacements, especially as, at that age, the impact in your chosen sport is comparatively minimal. Boil the mouthguard in water, bite it into shape and you should be fine. Be aware, however, that this type of mouthguard, while readily available in sports shops and chemists, very rarely provides a perfect fit, so it can also interfere with speech and breathing.

The more expensive mouthguard can only be obtained from your dentist, who will make a mould so that it fits perfectly and therefore provides optimum protection for your teeth. It is most suitable for older sports people whose teeth have stopped growing and so it makes sense to pay extra for something that will serve them well over a longer period of time. This type of mouthguard makes breathing much easier – and, let’s face it, that is bound to be beneficial in a sporting context where there is considerable physical exertion. You will find you can also speak more easily and more clearly.

How do I know if an injury needs emergency treatment?

Sporting dental injuries requiring immediate emergency treatment fall into four categories – having a tooth knocked out; having a tooth dislodged; having a tooth which is still in place but is badly chipped, split or fractured; and sustaining cuts to the tongue, inside of the mouth or lips, or damage to the jaw bone.

All these injuries need immediate treatment by a dentist, usually within an hour. So, whatever you do, don’t play the hero and carry on. How quickly you get treatment could mean the difference between saving a tooth and losing it, so don’t delay.

Another thing to bear in mind is that one injury may lead to another. For example, if you receive a blow to the face during a game – and this happens a lot in rugby – not only may there be superficial damage to your cheek or jaw, the impact may also have dislodged a tooth, and this may not be noticeable until a closer inspection is made.

If there is any possibility that there is dental damage it is always best to err on the side of caution and make haste to the emergency dentist for a thorough check.

What kind of treatment can be given there and then?

There are things that can be done on the field of play that may help your situation.

If you have badly chipped or fractured teeth they can be extremely sensitive, especially if it happens to be a cold winter’s day, so you could try sticking a piece of chewing gum – sugar-free of course – on to the tooth that has been damaged. This will protect it from the cold air until you get to the dentist.

Should you be told that your tooth has been loosened by the impact, but not completely knocked out, then be aware that it is highly likely the tooth can be saved, so whatever you do, don’t try to pull it out. Simply apply some kind of cold compress to your face in order to reduce any pain or swelling and then get to your emergency dentist as quickly as possible.

Even if your tooth has come out your dentist may still be able to replace it. So – if you can find it that is – pick it up carefully by the crown, immerse it in a cup of milk if possible (this will help to keep it healthy) and take it with you, post-haste, for emergency treatment.

Beware of other injuries

As most dental injuries are caused by a blow to the head it is therefore probable that there will be some degree of concussion, so there is a danger in rushing off for that emergency dental treatment, because you may be disorientated and therefore unfit to drive. In such circumstances always make sure that someone else is doing the driving.

Your injuries can also lead to other problems relating to eating, drinking and – no, not being merry – talking, not to mention longer-term issues. For example, any misalignment of the jaw can cause lots of aches, pains and spasms in other parts of the body. There may, therefore, have to be treatment for quite a long period once the initial damage has been dealt with.

Your dentist will tell you what the extent of the injury is and advise you on the necessary treatment. Even if there does not appear to be any additional problem it is recommended that you have regular checks to make sure that there are no repercussions later on.