Picture this: At the end of the championship soccer game for my son’s u10 team that I coach, The Flaming Piranha’s, it’s TIED. This is our rival team. They won the championship against us this last fall. This is personal. Soccer has shootout overtimes, basically meaning one person lines up against the goalie and tries to score. No defenders, no other offensive players. Just one person and the goalie… Now we are into DOUBLE OVERTIME! We step up, we shoot….. WE SCORE! They line up against our goalie, they shoot…… MISS! The Flaming Piranha’s win in DOUBLE OVERTIME! Yes! What a great ending to a great season of soccer. I love coaching my son’s soccer team. It is so rewarding and quite honestly I think I am more competitive about them winning then the kids are but, hey, there is nothing wrong with being a proud parent. But aside from being a proud parent, I’m a dentist. Injuries happen in sports we all know that. It is a risk that is calculated and taken. So what is the best way to protect your teeth while playing sports? Glad you asked.
In a study conducted by Dentaltown, you can access here, 78% of dentists recommend the routine use of mouth guards for patients who participate in sports. 61% of dentists say they treat between 1-3 sports related oral injuries each year that could have been prevented by a mouth guard. Another 25% say they treat between 4-6 oral injuries per year that were preventable. Most dentists and even sports experts recommend a custom fitted mouth guard from your dentist as this type of mouth guard provides the most protection and is the most comfortable. If a custom fit mouth guard isn’t an option try the sporting goods store “boil and bite” variety. Something is better than nothing. For sports that require a helmet these also will help prevent oral injury but that is not a guarantee. Again this falls into the something is usually better than nothing category.
So let’s assume for whatever reason you did not avoid oral injury and are now in the position of having a missing tooth. Think hockey player mouth. What do you do now? Even if a tooth has been knocked out, it can often be saved if you get to a dentist quickly enough. Minor chips and cracks can be repaired. We can repair teeth with tooth-colored materials that are nearly as strong as your original tooth. That being said, repairs are often very costly even with insurance and even if it is a “minor” injury. I definitely recommend prevention rather than emergency services.
Now I did not mean to scare anyone off. Sports are great. I am a very sports oriented person. I enjoy my bike racing in my free time and an occasional game of soccer or tennis or a trip to Bogus Basin whenever possible. I encourage you all to engage in some outdoors activities. After all we live in Idaho. The biggest draw for new people moving into our area is our great outdoors life. Just make sure you are calculating those risks and minimizing them whenever possible. While I love seeing and visiting with all my patients, I do not like seeing any of you in pain. In fact, we try to minimize that as much as possible. Have you tried our laughing gas? But when you do have an emergency make sure you get in as soon as possible. We want to keep those pearly whites in your mouth for as long as possible. See you all in my next blog post and go Flaming Piranha’s!