Contact sports and oral trauma
The winter school term traditionally marks the beginning of the football season. Contact sports like football and rugby are often typically associated with dental injuries. However racquet and stick sports like Hockey and even tennis are responsible for their fair share of dental trauma too.
There is no better way to avoid dental injury than by wearing a well fitting mouthguard. Mouthguards are available in many different forms from the “heat and Bite” across the counter types to customised mouthguards.
Heat and Bite mouthguards are just that. You heat up a preformed rubber mould in hot water, place in into the mouth and bite it into shape. They do offer protection to teeth because the rubber acts as a cushion softening the impact force received. However, with a heavier blow the lack of force dissipation may still result in the front teeth being knocked out.
Professionally made mouthguards fit the mouth precisely as they are “made to measure” and are therefore generally far more comfortable than a “heat and bite” across the counter type of mouth guard. Custom made mouthguards vary depending on the age of the wearer as well as the sport involved. There is a difference in force generated between the under 7’s soccer and a professional kickboxer!
Professionally made mouthguards are often laminated rubber with a firmer intermediate layer that is designed to help dissipate the force over as great an area as possible, so Lessening the impact force on individual teeth.
So, a relatively small investment in a professionally made mouthguard may save you thousands of dollars later.
In the event of a tooth being knocked out, the immediate first aid is to soak the tooth in milk. If milk is not available, wrapping the tooth in plastic with some of the patient’s saliva will help prevent the tooth from drying out. Immediate dental care is required to reimplant and splint the tooth. Teeth that have been knocked out can generally be “saved”, however they will require further treatment. If the tooth is reimplanted quickly, the patient will avoid the inconvenience of wearing a denture to replace the missing tooth.
Sports drinks may also be problematic. Sports drinks are often recommended following periods of excessive exercise. From a dental point of view, excessive exercise causes dehydration and reduction of salivary flow. Saliva in the mouth works as a natural buffer, neutralising acid. As most sports drinks are both sweet and acidic, by consuming them while in a dehydrated state we increase the risks of both tooth erosion and decay. Drinking water or rinsing with water prior to consuming sports drinks will lessen the effect of the acidic nature of the sports drinks.
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