From the desk of Janet Coon, Dental Assistant Department Head:
The sun is shining and the days are getting warmer. School will be out soon and participating in a sport will be a weekly or possibly daily event. While we all want to enjoy the play, please use caution and avoid causing damage to your smile during the fun.
Here are a few popular summer sports and ways to protect your dental health:
Soccer is a sport where mouthguards and face masks are not mandatory, upping the odds for mouth and face injuries. As a fellow soccer player, I have had my fair share of elbows to the face (including a broken nose). While a player is in current orthodontic treatment, it is always a good idea to wear a mouthguard to protect the soft tissues of the mouth like lips and cheeks from traumatic injuries. A mouth guard also protects the teeth from hitting against each other during contact, helping to prevent fractures and breaks.
Baseball and Softball:
These two sports risk head and face trauma by being hit with equipment. Both have requirements of batting helmets for concussion protocol, but I love seeing the added feature of face shields or guards attached to the helmet to protect mouth and cheek areas.
Swimming and Diving:
If I had a dollar for every swimming pool dental accident I helped treat I could be a very rich person. Please take time and care to know the pool’s depth before diving in. The beautiful front teeth you have cannot withstand the impact of hitting the bottom of the pool. The pool’s liner or floor will win every time.
Those who swim more than six hours a week continually expose their teeth to chemically treated water. Pool water contains chemical additives, which give the water a higher pH than saliva. As a result, salivary proteins break down quickly and form organic deposits on teeth. These hard, brown deposits, known as “swimmer’s’ calculus,” appear most frequently on the front teeth.
Bicycles and Scooters:
Who hasn’t, as a child or an adult, had the ultimate wipe-out while riding one of these? Road rash was a badge of honor for some of us as kids in the summer, but facial injuries can land you in an emergency room. Always wear all safety protocol including helmets, elbow, and knee pads. Be aware of road conditions, such as gravel or water present, to prevent accidents involving forward, head first accidents.
What to do in the event of an injury:
Lips and Tissue:
If your lip is swollen or bruised, apply a cold compress. If there is bleeding, apply pressure with a clean cloth for at least five minutes. Using ice can help limit swelling, bleeding, and discomfort. Wrap crushed ice in clean gauze or a clean piece of cloth and hold it on the area affected. Certain injuries will require treatment by an oral surgeon or plastic surgeon. It is particularly important to have an experienced surgeon stitch cuts that involve the lip.
Knocked out tooth:
The key to successfully reattaching a tooth is to get it put back in the socket as soon as possible. With each minute that passes, more of the cells on the root of the tooth die. If possible, rinse the tooth with water only, then place the tooth back into the socket and hurry to a dentist as quickly as possible. The best chance for success is placement within the first 30 minutes, with chances still good for up to two hours.
Cracked or broken tooth:
Cracked and broken teeth should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Treatment will depend on the amount of damage that occurred. Sensitivity to temperatures and air may increase if the tooth is not repaired as well as the tooth being vulnerable to decaying.