Sports-Related Tooth Injuries
By: Dr. Brian Cross
Last weekend during a 2017 NBA playoff game, an NBA star got one of his front teeth knocked out when an errant elbow caught him in the mouth. He immediately went to the locker room and although a trainer reinserted it for a temporary fix, it came out again later in the game. Unfortunately, sports-related tooth injuries like this are common and can have severe complications down the line.
Can a Knocked-Out Tooth Be Reinserted?
Sometimes, a knocked-out permanent tooth can be reinserted in the mouth by a dentist. However, many times there is too much damage to the tooth’s roots, surrounding teeth, or gums to successfully reinsert the tooth. This leads to the need for a dental implant or bridge.
Around 20% of sports injuries are to the mouth. Most commonly caused during contact sports, types of mouth injuries include a tooth fracture, tooth avulsion (tooth knocked out), and luxation. A Tooth luxation refers to trauma that causes a tooth to move out of position including backward, forwards, or sideways. It is estimated that tooth injuries caused by sports can cost up to $20,000 for lifetime maintenance.*
Mouth Guards Protect Teeth during Sports
Sports cause over 5 million knocked-out teeth a year.* And it’s not just common in contact sports; it can happen in sports that aren’t commonly thought of as contact sports, like basketball! Mouth guards are the best way to protect all areas of the mouth, including teeth, tongue, gums, lips, and cheeks.
Athletes not wearing mouth guards are injured at a rate of 60 times over those who do wear a mouth guard. If you play a contact sport, we recommend wearing a mouth guard at all times. There are a few different types of mouth guards:
Stock mouth guards: these are inexpensive and pre-formed found at sports retailers. They do not fit very well and make breathing and talking difficult during sports.
“Boil and bite” mouth guards: you can also purchase a “boil and bite” mouth guard at sporting goods stores. You simply boil the mouth guard to make it pliable, then bite down on it so it forms to the mouth. It is a less expensive option but does not protect as well as a custom mouth guard.
Custom mouth guards: Dental Associates can make a custom mouth guard right in our clinic. This creates the most secure and form-fitting mouth guard which will protect teeth the best. It is also the most comfortable mouth guard option since it is created just for your mouth. Ask your dentist at your next visit.
Sports mouth injuries can happen at any time, so prepare for the unexpected; wear a mouth guard and protect those teeth!