Recent reports indicate that sports accidents and injuries account for 10-39% of all dental injuries among children. Athletic endeavors are extremely popular and beneficial to children, though, so what can a parent do to prevent sports related dental injuries? Dr. Wesley Powell, pediatric dentist in Atlanta, shares his expertise on the matter.
First, let’s look at the facts:
Per the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children are most susceptible to a sports-related orofacial injuries between the ages of seven and eleven years old. There are several reasons for this, and the first is simply that children in this age range usually lack the dexterity and coordination needed to play safely. They begin testing boundaries at this age, and may engage in risky behavior. They also may struggle to control their emotions, making aggressive play and fighting more likely.
A survey by the American Association of Orthodontics found that 84% of children don’t wear mouthguards while playing organized sports. Children are sixty times more likely to sustain damage to their teeth when they don’t wear a mouthguard, but many don’t because they aren’t required to. This is true even when they are required to wear other protective gear like helmets and shoulder pads.
The number of injuries drops down in the pre-teen and teen years, perhaps because more school sports programs advise the use of mouthguards. Not all middle and high schools require this, though. Currently the National Federation of State High School Associations only mandates the use of mouthguards for football, ice hockey, lacrosse, field hockey, and for those wrestlers who wear braces. The ADA found that face and mouthguards prevent about 200,000 injuries each year, just among high school and college football players.
How to prevent sports-related dental injuries:
The moral of the story is clear – make sure your child wears a mouthguard during sports, regardless of whether they are expected to or not. It’s also important that your child wear a custom mouthguard, created by their pediatric dentist. Atlanta based Dr. Powell and his team provide athletic mouthguards for children of all ages, and they are highly superior to generic mouthguards that can be purchased at the store. They help protect the teeth, gums, mouth, and jaw, and have the added benefit of reducing the risk of impact concussions. The initial cost is minimal compared to the overall costs associated with orofacial injuries.
Significant costs can build up if a child ends up with a chipped, loosened, or knocked out tooth. More severe injuries can obviously cost families even more, and may require surgical treatments, dental implants, or even cosmetic surgery. This is on top of the psychological damage that can result from the trauma, as well as the pain and potential embarrassment a child might suffer.
The best way to prevent such injuries is plan in advance. The mouthguard should be the first step, along with a consultation with your Atlanta pediatric dentist. Dr. Powell has expertise on dental and facial injuries, and he can advise you on preventative measures. He can also tell you exactly what to do immediately after an injury occurs, and provide emergency dental treatment if needed. You can also talk with your child and the team coach about how you all can prevent injury or accidents.
Dr. Powell, leading children’s dentist in Atlanta, is here to help! Contact the Northlake Mall location by calling 770-934-5900, or reach the Buckhead location at 404-252-5900.