Summer is almost here, and that means good weather, good times, and lots of outdoor activities. It can also mean injuries to the mouth from those activities if proper precautions are not taken. Roller blading, street hockey, soccer, basketball, skateboarding, bicycling, and football are all sports from which mouth injuries can occur.
These injuries can range from being mild, such as a small chip on a tooth, to severe including knocked out teeth, lip lacerations, and possible fracture of the jaws. Mouthguards, which are often overlooked for some of these seemingly harmless activities, can help to prevent the majority of these injuries.
Mouthguards are easy to make and fit, and the most comfortable and protective ones can be made inexpensively by a dentist from a custom mold of the teeth. These are a step up from the “boil and bite” mouthguards that can be purchased at the grocery store. A “boil and bite” mouthguard is definitely better than no mouthguard at all, but does not offer quite as much protection.
The majority of injuries can be prevented by wearing mouthguards, but if an injury should occur, some steps can be taken to insure the best outcome. If a tooth is chipped, try to find the piece, because there is a good chance that the chipped tooth can be bonded back on the tooth. If a tooth is partially knocked out, try to push the tooth back in as far as possible, and summon help, preferably a dentist. If a tooth if completely knocked out, it is still possible to save it, but it is critical to contact a dentist as soon as possible, and in the meantime, store the tooth in milk or clean water to keep it from drying out.
If a more severe injury occurs, such as a lip laceration or a possible jaw fracture help should be sought at the emergency room immediately, and they should contact a dentist to deal with tooth injuries.
If you have any questions about custom-fit mouthguards, mouthguards in general, or sports injuries, a dentist is your best source of advice. Summer activities can be a lot of fun, but injuries can occur. Wear a mouthguard and play safe!