It can be frightening – and painful – to have a dental emergency while participating in sports. Our Ottawa dentists talk about the most common dental injuries that athletes face, what to do if they happen, and how to avoid them.
What are common dental injuries athletes face?
The following dental injuries are common in athletes, as they are usually the result of a blow to the head or face.
We often see athletes on television and the field with gaps in their teeth. This is because a knocked-out tooth is a common sports injury.
If you lose a tooth, you should try to find it as soon as possible. Pick it up by the crown and keep your hands away from the root. Rinse it off and, if possible, replace it in the socket, biting down gently to keep it in place.
If you are unable to place the tooth back into its socket, it must be kept moist. Until you can get to your dentist's office, place the tooth in a cup of milk (not water) or your saliva, or your mouth next to your cheek.
Ideally, you’ll get to the dentist’s office within 30 minutes of the injury. If you see your dentist quickly enough, they may be able to save your tooth.
Fractured Tooth Roots
Take a hard hit from the wrong angle and you could suffer a fractured tooth root. In these cases, the crack originates from the roots of the tooth and makes it's way up.
A fractured tooth root may cause no symptoms. Because they are hidden beneath the gum line, they are sometimes only discovered when the pulp of the tooth becomes infected.
A patient with a tooth root fracture should have root canal therapy as soon as possible to prevent or treat the infection.
Tooth intrusion is another painful condition that occurs when the tooth is driven back into the jawbone.
Children often experience this injury more than adults, as the alveolar bones that hold their tooth sockets are not as strong as those of adults.
Treatment will differ depending on whether the tooth is a primary (baby) tooth or a permanent one. In primary teeth, if the intruded tooth has not intruded into the developing adult tooth, the dentist might allow it to spontaneously re-erupt. The dentist will extract the tooth if it does not re-erupt.
A permanently intruded tooth will also be allowed to re-erupt passively. If re-eruption does not occur, surgical or orthodontic re-eruption treatment, as well as endodontic treatment, can be used.
A cracked tooth has a split or crack that runs from the crown down into the tooth. You may experience sharp pain when biting down, intermittent tooth pain, or sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures if you have a cracked tooth. It's also possible that you won't have any symptoms at all.
Your dentist may use a crown, filling, or dental bonding to repair the crack, depending on the type and severity of the crack. A root canal or extraction may be required in extreme cases. Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
How to prevent sports injuries
A custom-made mouthguard, which acts as a barrier between your teeth and gums and cushions your teeth from blows to the head or face, can prevent many dental emergencies caused by sports injuries.
If you play sports or engage in high-impact physical activities, talk to your dentist about a custom-made mouthguard today.