For many families, sports and other recreational activities are a year-round event. While most sports require helmets to help protect your child’s head, their jaw and teeth are often left vulnerable—even for seemingly non-contact sports or high-intensity recreational activities. That’s why, at Lance Savoie Family Dental, we make it a top priority to help parents be proactive in protecting their children’s teeth. Use these dental safety tips to play it safe and help keep everyone on the team smiling.
1. Understand the Risk
Understanding and acknowledging the risks associated with a particular sport is one of the first steps toward safety. While some sports, like softball and baseball, present obvious risks of being hit in the mouth with a ball, others are less obvious. For example, soccer players are more likely than football players to suffer dental-related sports injuries. Even non-contact sports, such as swimming, can cause damage to your teeth. Exposure to chemically-treated water can cause what is known as “swimmer’s calculus” and stain the teeth. We work to get ahead of any potential issues by looking out for these types of sport-related dental changes and hazards any time we work with a patient we know is an athlete.
2. Use a Custom Mouth Guard
A custom-fitted mouth guard is the best protection any athlete can have when it comes to protecting their mouth and teeth from an impact. An ill-fitting mouth guard offers less protection and is more likely to be discarded and not worn, particularly by younger sports players. Our mouth guards are foam cast to create a custom fit that is more comfortable and safer for your child’s teeth. We can also attach a custom team logo on the guard and design it to absorb a precisely calculated amount of impact based on the sport, activity level and build of the athlete.
3. Wear Protective Headgear
When appropriate, athletes should also wear protective headgear to protect their head, face, mouth and teeth from an impact. Helmets are specifically designed to absorb the energy of an impact and provide significant protection against injury. It is particularly important for players of contact sports, such as baseball, softball and lacrosse, to wear an appropriate helmet at recognized times.
4. Follow the Rules of Play
Another important component of dental safety is following the rules of play. More injuries occur when team members are not playing by the rules or otherwise engaging in unsafe play. While it is a coach’s responsibility to oversee his or her athletes and foster an environment of rule-oriented play, parents and other spectators alike can encourage team members to play fair and follow the rules. While this aspect of play doesn’t prevent injuries altogether, it does cut down on the risk.
5. Eat a Balanced Diet
It’s necessary for athletes to fuel their bodies well so they are at their peak performance, but eating a healthy, balanced diet also promotes gum and tooth health. The body needs a variety of protein, fruit and vegetables to maintain strength, fight disease and rid the body of bacteria. Each of these components is also a factor in dental protection.
6. Avoid Sugary Foods and Drinks
Many athletes are tempted to hydrate and refuel with sugary sports drinks and filler foods. However, the best way to stay hydrated is by grabbing a bottle of water and a natural, non-processed snack. If a quick pick-me-up is an absolute necessity, the best option is a natural, high-protein shake or drink that the body can easily process and use.
The bottom line is that dental safety needs to be a priority whether sports are involved or not. At Savoie Dental, we can help you learn how to best protect you and your family’s teeth—on and off the field. Schedule an appointment or consultation today.