Teeth And Sports: A Guide To Dental Injuries In Kids

Sports and activity plays a crucial role in developing healthy, strong young adults. As we know though, kids will be kids, and the dangers of physical activity come thick and fast to growing young bodies. Your child may start a new sport in the new school year - be prepared and help to prevent life's little accidents!

Young Mouths

Injuries to teeth are amongst the most common types of sporting injuries

From 6 months of age, your child will begin to get their baby teeth (or milk teeth). Whilst all of these teeth will be replaced by the permanent set, broken or lost baby teeth can have an impact on a growing child’s mouth.

By age 5-6 kids will start to see their permanent adult teeth erupting in the mouth. As they are often larger than other teeth they are susceptible to bumps and knocks that can crack or dislodge them often resigning a child to a lifelong period of dental maintenance.

Types Of Mouth-guards

There are three types of mouth-guards:

  1. Stock (non fitted)
  2. Bite and mould (fitted after biting in hot water)
  3. Dentist moulded

Only dentist molded mouth guards have been shown to provide adequate protection of teeth during trauma. It’s important that your child have a thorough dental checkup before commencing any sport.

Sports Types

Getting to know different types of categories of sports and the injuries that are associated with each will guide us to what type of precautions and protection we should be considering for our kids.

High speed impact sports

These are sports that include vehicles or objects that move much faster than humans and involve the highest risks of injuries.

Examples include:

  • Motorsports
  • Cricket
  • Hockey
  • Extreme sports eg. Skateboarding and rollerblading

Protection – Due to risk of injuries and concussions, these sports often have specialized hard protection of the skull and face regions such as helmets or guards. It’s important to also use a dentist formed mouth guard to provide the highest level of safety if an accident is to occur.

Body contact sports

Activities that involve body collisions whilst lower than high-speed sports, still carry the risk of dental injuries in young kids.

Examples include:

  • Rugby League
  • Rugby Union
  • AFL
  • Soccer
  • Martial Arts/Self Defence

Protection - Often these sports have specialized soft helmet options for kids to wear. These have not shown to be significantly effective in preventing head and facial injuries. When playing all body contact sports it’s imperative that your child wears a dentist moulded mouth-guard to minimise risk of dental injury.

What to do if a dental injury occurs

If a child suffers a broken tooth is it’s important to reassure the child and make a dental appointment as soon as possible.

In the case of a lost tooth, if possible it should be re-implanted, in cases where the tooth can’t be implanted, it should NOT be washed or stored in water but stored in either milk or saline solution and taken to the nearest available dental surgery immediately.