Dental injuries are a significant problem in the world of sport, being prevalent in contact sports and also activities which involve a risk of falling accidents. Such damage regularly involves the front teeth, and often occurs simultaneously with an injury to the face or head. Typically the sports with greatest risk of dental injury are those involving low speed collisions, including football and rugby. Sports like boxing, in which impacts are severe but mouth guards are forcibly implemented, tend to cause less dental injuries and more facial fractures. Dental damage also frequently occurs in activities with regular chance of falling accidents.
At the scene of an injury
When teeth are damaged, the injured party should see a dentist as quickly as they can. However, it is equally important to take appropriate care of the injury immediately, in order to minimize the chances of the condition becoming exacerbated. Coaches or other parties responsible for medical care can invest in a dental emergency kit and learn about effective care. Kits should come with instructions and there are plenty of books and resources available. It is important to note that the measures taken must always be sensible and educated, and are not a substitute for a dentist.
You should aim to assess all injuries acquired during a sports activity thoroughly when they arise, as almost any facial damage has the potential of also affecting the teeth. If you suspect that somebody has a dental injury they must not participate any further before consulting a professional.
Protection and PreventionThe quicker the injury is seen to by a dentist, the greater the chance of full recovery. This extends to chipped teeth and even to those completely removed by a blow or fall. Nevertheless, much dental damage can be severe and is often needless. Taking suitable steps to protect your teeth can help in avoiding pain and potentially lasting injury. The main and most effective forms of protection are mouth guards and helmets.
Helmets are essential for fast-paced activities involving risk of nasty falls, such as cycling, skating and many amateur forms of boxing and martial arts. Your helmet must be properly fitted and appropriate for the specific sport, as loose or unsuitable headgear will not protect you and can even be hazardous.
Mouth guards should be worn when partaking in any activity with a high-impact component. Incidental strikes to the teeth are the most common cause of injury, as opposed to the calculated blows of boxing. Speed is generally a bad indicator of the chance of injury, with football, hockey and basketball collisions often occurring at relatively low speeds but carrying far more significant risk of dental damage. Ideally you should wear a mouth guard for all of the aforementioned sports to help prevent injury. Many are available from sports accessory shops, but as they are readymade they are generally ill-fitting and not guaranteed to be effective. It is always preferable to consult a dentist and have a mouth guard fitted for maximum protection if feasible. Your guard should be rinsed at regular intervals during activity, kept out of excessive heat, and replaced if showing signs of wearing or tearing.
- articular cartilage damage
- auricular haematoma
- dental damage
- lens dislocation
- mandibular injury
- maxillary injury
- neck pain
- perforated eardrum
- skull fracture
- temporomandibular injury
- vitreous haemorrhage