As a parent, protecting your child from injury is always top of mind. If your child participates in sports and other activities, it is possible for them to sustain oral injuries that can lead to loss of teeth or even a concussion. The more active your child is, the more chance there is for them to be injured, although in most cases the injuries will be minor. To reduce the risk of serious injury, making sure your child is properly protected is the best way to be prepared. A mouthguard is the best way to protect them from oral injuries.
What is oral trauma?
Oral traumas are any injuries to the mouth and teeth. They can occur at any time, especially when your child is learning to walk and is still unsteady on their feet. However, oral trauma can also occur when your child is participating in sports.
What are the types and causes of oral trauma?
Some common injuries for toddlers and children include:
- Cuts and scratches to the lips, gums, or tongue.
- Chipped and broken teeth.
- Displaced teeth.
- Teeth being knocked out.
Mouth injuries are most commonly associated with falls in younger children. However, sports and other activities can increase risks which include falls, but also being hit by other children, balls, and sports equipment.
How can mouth injuries be avoided?
If your child is participating in sports, their best defence against injury is a mouthguard. This is even more important when playing contact sports.
Mouthguards reduce the risk of injury because they can absorb much of the force generated during impact. They can protect against serious fractures and lost teeth, reducing injuries to minor bruising.
What types of mouthguards are available?
There are many types of mouthguards available including:
- Boil and bite: These mouthguards can be purchased at your pharmacy or sporting goods store. They are popular because they are easy to find and are also affordable. They are called boil and bite because the soft material is boiled for a few minutes to soften it so that a customized fit is achieved when your child bites into it. Although these will provide some protection, they are not as effective as the other types of mouthguards available.
- Customized: This is your best option, as it is made from a precise impression of your child’s teeth taken at our office. Your child will have a better fit and also have a mouthguard made of a more effective material. It provides far better protection than a boil and bite mouthguard. Although it costs more, it is worth the investment to protect your child from serious injury.
Both will provide support and protection for your child during activities.
What are the benefits of mouthguards?
There are many benefits to mouthguards, including:
- Prevention of laceration and bruising of teeth, tongue, and inner cheeks.
- Prevention of tooth fractures or dislocations.
- Absorption of impact to the face, head, and mouth.
- Protection of opposing teeth from seismic contact with each other.
- Support to the mandible to prevent fracture or damage to the lower jaw.
- Reduced risk of neurological injury by absorbing shock between the upper and lower jaws.
- Positive reinforcement to prevent neck injuries.
- Confidence for athletes when they are less concerned about injury.
- Support for adjacent teeth.
Risk of Concussion
A mouthguard protects against violently jarring the jaw, which can distribute the impact from the mandible against the base of the skull. When this occurs, it is possible to suffer a concussion. This is the most serious and life-threatening risk of oral trauma. The purpose of the mouthguard is to separate the mandible and maxilla to provide a buffer for the potential concussive effect to the base of the brain.
Blows can vary in their impact when it comes to the jaw and chin. Although many parents feel concussion occurs only when the head is struck, when the jaw and chin are hit, the concussive vibration can include the temporal bone of the skull. The cranial nerve contained in the bone affects hearing, balance, and blood supply to the brain. The skull cannot protect or prevent the brain from incurring forces from violent impact, so protection is required.
Protection for Teeth
A proper mouthguard will cover and protect all of your child’s teeth. It is designed to protect your child’s entire mouth, including the posterior teeth, using the proper thickness to diffuse impact to the jaw. The mouthguard protects the anterior teeth from frontal blows. It will absorb and disperse the vibration that could cause severe damage.
The ADA recommends wearing custom mouthguards for the following sports:
- Field hockey
- Ice hockey
- Martial arts
- Roller hockey
- Water polo
- Mountain biking
What happens if my child has a mouth injury?
As soon as a mouth injury occurs, quick action is required. Although a mouthguard can significantly reduce the risk of injury, unfortunately, it can’t eliminate injury completely.
When a dental injury occurs, you can take action based on the type of injury:
- Chipped tooth: If the tooth is chipped, you can collect any tooth fragments and call our office immediately for an emergency appointment. The wait will be no longer than 12 hours.
- Moved or loose tooth: If the tooth has moved or is loose, immediate attention is required. Within six hours of injury, we can readjust the tooth and provide a splint to keep it in place until it is reattached.
- Lost tooth: If the tooth is completely knocked out, find the tooth and gently rinse it off with water. Do not brush the tooth. You can insert the root end into the empty socket to improve the chances of saving the tooth or place the tooth in cold milk to bring to our office. Call us immediately.
When you arrive at our office with a dental emergency, we will assess the injury by looking at and feeling your child’s mouth. We will also take an x-ray in some cases before determining what repairs are required.
Call Oakville Place Dental Office today at 905-842-6030 or contact us here to book an appointment.