Dentist Digest Monthly: Protecting Your Kid’s Teeth During Sports


Team sports can be an excellent addition to a growing kid’s developing, teaching life skills like teamwork, dedication, hard work, and other valuable accomplishments. Yet, there is an element of dental danger to playing sports.

In popular contact sports like basketball, soccer, volleyball, and others, there is a high possibility that your child’s teeth can be damaged. While often the damage can be resolved fairly easily with some minor cosmetic dentistry, there are instances where the dental trauma can be more severe.

As your local family dentists in Billings, MT, here is some dentist-approved advice to help your kids to stay safe while enjoying their time participating in sports.

What Sports Are Most Likely To Cost Your Kid A Tooth

While it is completely possible for your kid to trip and knock out a tooth while participating on the cross-country team, the likelihood is pretty slim. Below are the sports that are most likely to cause your child to hurt their teeth and potentially lose one.

Basketball – While basketball is technically a non-contact sport, there are many instances of contact during the course of the game. Knocked out or cracked teeth due to flying elbows and collisions are not uncommon.

Ball and stick games – Sports that incorporate the use of a ball and players with sticks—such as lacrosse, baseball, hockey, etc.—have high incidents of tooth trauma. There is a good deal of protective gear that comes with most ball and stick sports but the damage due to being struck forcefully with either a player’s stick or the ball.

Skateboarding – As most young skateboarders like to skip out on wearing any protective gear, while still taking hard falls, they have some of the highest incidents of dental damage. Especially since one bad move generally means that a skateboarder will make contact with unforgiving asphalt and concrete.

Martial arts – A clear contact sport is various martial arts, from traditional styles like Tae Kwon Do and karate, as well as other sports like boxing and wrestling. Most of these martial arts require the use of a mouthguard, which can keep the dental trauma down, but there is still the potential for problems.

Football – There is plenty of protective gear worn during while playing football, yet your child’s teeth can still take a hit. Often, damage occurs when there are multiple players involved in a tackle, as the first jolt can knock the mouthguard out of position then the next hits can make contact with the teeth.

Other Sports That Can Lead To Dental Damage

Along with the top offenders, there are other sports where there is a significant risk of breaking, chipping, or losing a tooth. Other sports where children and teens can benefit from wearing a mouthguard are:

  • Volleyball
  • Equestrian sports
  • Inline skating
  • Snowboarding and skiing
  • Water polo
  • Rugby
  • Track and field events
  • Racquetball
  • Soccer

Have Your Child Fit With A Custom Mouthguard

One of the dental services we offer at our dental clinic is custom mouthguards. With a store-bought mouthguard, they are generally “boil and bite”, where you boil the mouthguard and then bite down to get an impression of the wearer’s teeth. However, these often aren’t a great fit and can still move around while wearing them, which provides less protection for your teeth.

With a custom mouthguard, an impression of the teeth is taken. From that impression, a mouthguard is created. With a custom mouthguard designed to fit your child’s teeth perfectly, there is less likelihood that the mouthguard will slip and not protect your kid’s teeth. Also, the better the mouthguard fits, the less likely your child will be to skip wearing it due to discomfort.

What To Do If A Dental Injury Occurs

If your child does suffer from a dental injury while playing sports, do your best to stay calm. If the tooth is still in place but damaged, call us to set up an emergency appointment. We keep time open for our recurring patients in case of an emergency. Even if you aren’t a dental patient at Bridge Creek Dental, you can still access our emergency dental services.

Also, if the tooth has been knocked out, you can place it in milk and bring it along to the appointment, as there is a chance that it can be re-implanted.

Also, be sure to contact us to set up appointments to bring your kids in for their biannual dental cleaning. That way, if there is any tooth trauma that may have gone under the radar, our dental staff will be able to find and correct the problem before it becomes a serious issue.

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