Guarding Against Dental and Facial Injuries – National Facial Protection Month

Guarding Against Dental and Facial Injuries – National Facial Protection Month

It is important to keep your teeth protected during physical activity because that is the most likely time they will suffer damage. Your teeth aren’t just there for your smile—a complete set of chompers is necessary to bite, chew, and speak!

April is National Facial Protection Month. The American Dental Association is teaming up with the American Association of Orthodontists, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry to spread awareness about the importance of using a mouthguard for dental protection in sports and other outdoor activities.

Sports Where Mouth and Facial Injuries are Most Likely

There are a few sports where players commonly wear mouthguards. This important tooth protection should be worn even during practice sessions with these intense physical activities:

  • Boxing. Because participants will hit each other in their faces extensively, wearing a mouth guard is absolutely essential. In fact, boxing is the only professional sport requiring mouthguards.
  • Football. Players wear helmets that provide a firm layer of facial protection. As an added precautionary measure, they are also required to wear mouth guards under the grills of their helmets, preventing the possibility of painful and inconvenient tooth injuries.
  • Martial arts. Mouth protection is necessary in the sparring ring. In Olympic sparring, the head is an area where a blow will score a point, making the face and mouth vulnerable to accidental injury.

The National Federation of State High School Associations and the National Collegiate Athletic Association also require mouthguards in ice hockey, field hockey and lacrosse. Those sticks pose a real danger to the teeth!

While these are some sports where athletes commonly wear mouthguards, dentists recommend a mouthguard for any contact sport or activity that could lead to mouth injury. That includes everything from soccer and basketball to biking, skateboarding and surfing.

Parents and coaches are responsible for setting an important teeth-saving tone: mouthguards should be non-negotiable in any contact or high-velocity activity, whether it’s competitive or just for fun. Athletes who wear mouthguards are between 82% and 93% less likely to experience dental injuries like crown fractures and complete tooth displacement.

A mouthguard must fit properly to effectively reduce the risk of dental injuries. Sporting goods stores sell semi-fitted mouth guards that you boil and bite to conform to the shape of your teeth, but an even better idea is to visit your dentist to get a custom guard made specifically for your mouth. Keeping your bite pristine is an important part of any athletic activity.




Dental Emergencies: Tooth Injuries

A child losing a baby tooth is considered to be a rite of passage, but a child, teen, or adult losing a permanent tooth is considered a dental emergency. If you or someone you know ever loses a permanent tooth, a dentist may be able to save the tooth if it’s replaced within about an hour. Learn what to do when someone is involved in an accident and dislodges a permanent tooth.

Babies, Toddlers and Young Children Tooth Injuries

If the gums or baby teeth are injured, use a piece of cold, wet gauze to apply pressure to the affected area. If the child is capable of following directions, have him bite down on the gauze. Reduce swelling with an ice pop or an icepack wrapped in a clean washcloth and held to the cheek. Use ibuprofen or acetaminophen (according to package and dosage directions) to help ease the pain if needed after you call a dentist to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, you’ll want to keep an eye out for signs of fever, pain, inflammation or tooth discoloration.

For broken or chipped permanent teeth, gather as many pieces of the tooth as possible and rinse the child’s mouth out with warm water. Contact the child’s dentist and make an appointment for the next available appointment.

Dislodged Permanent Tooth

Take your child to an urgent care dental clinic as soon as possible if a permanent tooth is knocked out (if it’s late and your dentist is not open you may consider going to the emergency room, although the doctors will likely only be able to treat the bleeding and control the pain; they probably will be unable to replace the tooth).

If possible, find the tooth and bring it along with you, holding it by the “chewing end” rather than the root. To preserve the tooth, place it in a solution of water with a pinch of table salt or a container of milk. For older kids, teens, or even adults, you can attempt to place the tooth back in the socket, taking care that you don’t touch the root of the tooth.

If the tooth is dirty, rinse it with water prior to placing it back in the mouth. Have the person bite down on gauze to keep the tooth in place. If the tooth has to be stored in a container, add a little bit of milk or some water with a pinch of table salt, then put gauze or a clean handkerchief or towel in the person’s mouth to slow the bleeding on your way to the dentist. 

Act quickly and keep calm if your child ever loses a permanent tooth. Follow the above steps and get to the dentist as soon as possible to help your child keep his or her smile.