How to Keep Your Teeth: Sports Dentistry Tips for the Athlete

It’s August in Central Oregon. It’s dry. It’s hot. But it is so fun.

Opportunities for outdoor recreation abound, and one particular favorite (especially by our dentists) is mountain biking. Part of the mountain biking game is avoiding certain natural features – you know – the kind that could have you washing out on that famous Central Oregon “moon dust” and into a gnarly lava rock garden hugging the side of the trail. But a scratched-up face is only one of your worries. If you’re smart, you’re also considering what could happen to your teeth. 

It is estimated that sports-related dental injuries account for 40% of all dental injuries in the US. But wearing a mouthguard isn’t something the majority of outdoor enthusiasts and athletes do. Think about it: the NBA teams all wear mouthguards, but our high school basketball teams (and most other H.S. contact sports teams) don’t. But the knowledge is there – the American Dental Association (ADA) advocates using a properly fitted mouth guard for 29 different sports

And until mouthguards become more prevalent, we wanted to share some critical information to keep you and your family safe and dental-injury-free.

Do You Need a Sports Mouthguard?

You may think that sports mouthguards are only needed for football, lacrosse, or hockey. But the truth is that if you are involved in any type of sport or recreation that could result in a blow to the face or mouth and damage your smile, a sports mouthguard is essential. From gymnastics and skiing to surfing and volleyball, there are many limited contact sports where mouthguards are recommended.

What Kind of Sports Mouthguard Do I Need?

While several types of athletic mouthguards are available, a custom-made mouthguard is the most effective in protecting your smile. This type of mouthguard is designed to comfortably fit your smile and prevent dental injury, such as knocked out and chipped teeth. A sports guard can also help prevent damage to the mouth’s soft tissues, including the tongue, lips, cheeks, and gums. 

There are standards you should consider before purchasing a mouthguard. The ADA recommends that your mouthguard:

  • be properly fitted to the wearer’s mouth and accurately adapted to their oral structures;
  • be made of resilient materials approved by the FDA and cover all teeth – most commonly worn on the upper;
  • stay in place comfortably and securely;
  • be easy to clean
  • have high-impact energy absorption

At Mill Point Dental, we can make a custom-fitted sports mouthguard that checks all the boxes at your request. 

What Do I Do If I Have a Dental Injury?

How you address a sports-related dental injury will depend on the injury itself. The most common dental injuries in athletes come from direct trauma. Tooth dislocations, displaced teeth, tooth fractures, or jaw dislocation are the four most common injuries seen. 

The first thing you should do is take a deep breath and examine the damage. You need to be able to clearly explain what happened to your dentist when you call them – and you should contact them right away.

If your tooth was knocked out, rinse the tooth off in milk (you heard that right) or saline. If you can, put the clean tooth back into the gum – pointy part down! Don’t force it in. Keep it in place by putting a soft cloth or gauze in the mouth over the re-inserted tooth and bite down on it. The tooth must stay moist. Saliva is PERFECT for doing this. If you can’t reinsert the tooth, you can put the tooth in milk and head over to the dentist’s office. You can also put the tooth inside your cheek – like a chipmunk – just don’t swallow it.

Protect your smile by investing in a sports mouthguard. We can create a comfortable, custom mouthguard – which is considerably more comfortable and better fitting than one purchased over the counter. 

We invite you to contact our office today to learn more about mouthguards and their benefits. We look forward to caring for your smile!