The Impact of Sports on Pediatric Dental Health: How To Protect Your Child’s Smile

Don't let kids' sports damage their teeth.

Kids’ Sports and the Prevalence of Dental Injuries 

There she goes—running down the soccer field. The ball is hers, and just as it is time for her to kick the ball into the net with all of her might, she trips and falls. The other team gains the ball back and starts heading to the opposite end of the field. But your eyes are on your little girl as she stands up, her hand over her mouth. She bends down and picks up something from the grass, and you realize what has happened. She got a tooth knocked out.

As kids dribble, tackle, and swing, the risk of a mishap is never far away. The fact is that cracked, chipped, and knocked-out teeth are not uncommon in these energetic activities.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry indicates that sports mishaps are responsible for up to 39% of all dental injuries in children. So whether it’s a soccer match or a hockey game, the likelihood of dental distress is pretty big. Other contact sports like football, basketball, hockey, and martial arts pose a particularly high risk.

And these injuries do more than alter a smile; they can deeply affect a child’s oral health and, by extension, their overall quality of life. The discomfort and potential long-term effects of a sports-related dental injury can impact not only their participation in the game but also their confidence and self-esteem. 

How To Prevent Dental Injuries in Kids’ Sports

In sports, keeping kids safe is key, especially when it comes to protecting their teeth. Helmets and face guards do a great job of stopping injuries to the face, and they’re required in sports like football and hockey. But there’s something else that’s important for teeth: mouth guards. 

Surprisingly, not all sports require kids to wear mouth guards. This is a big deal because mouth guards can prevent a lot of dental injuries, like teeth getting knocked out or broken. It’s a simple step, but it can make a big difference in protecting their teeth.

What is a mouth guard?

A mouth guard is an oral appliance that fits over the teeth and gums. They absorb and distribute the force of an impact, helping to prevent broken teeth, cut lips, and other dental-related damage. By forming a barrier between the teeth and the external threat, mouth guards help maintain oral health and safety during physical activity. Mouth guards are typically made of soft plastic material and custom-fit to the patient’s mouth, although there are also ready-made and boil-and-bite types available from your local drugstore. 

Mouth guards are essential for anyone participating in contact sports or activities that might risk injury to the mouth. 

Custom Mouth Guards from Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry 

At Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry, we are focused on pediatric dental health and understand the importance of protecting your child’s smile. That’s why we recommend custom-fitted mouth guards designed to provide young athletes the utmost protection and comfort. 

While it’s tempting to opt for a quick, less expensive option from online retailers, these generic mouth guards cannot offer the same level of safety and ease. Our pediatric dentists craft perfectly tailored mouth guards to fit your child’s mouth, ensuring a snug, comfortable fit that won’t interfere with breathing or speaking. 

This precise fit not only maximizes protection against dental injuries but also ensures that your child can focus on the game without the distraction of an ill-fitting mouth guard. Investing in a custom-fitted mouth guard from Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry is investing in your child’s dental health and athletic success.

Educating Kids on Sports Safety and the Importance of Dental Protection 

Educating kids on the importance of wearing their mouth guards and other protective gear is key to keeping them safe during sports. Here are some ways to talk to them about it:

  • Use simple examples: Explain how a mouth guard acts like a cushion for their teeth during a fall or hit, much like a helmet protects their head.
  • Show role models. Share stories or pictures of professional athletes who wear mouth guards and helmets, showing that even the pros need protection. For example, show them an NFL game where the players wear their mouth guards.
  • Make it a routine. Stress the importance of wearing safety gear every time they play, just like tying their shoes or putting on a uniform.
  • Explain the consequences. Without using scare tactics, briefly explain what could happen if they don’t wear their protective gear, emphasizing that wearing it helps them stay in the game and have fun.

Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry can help protect your child’s teeth during kids’ sports.

Remember that scene on the soccer field? Imagine a different outcome. This time, when she gets up after her fall, she gets back in the game immediately. Thanks to her mouth guard, she avoided a dental disaster. Her smile remains intact, protected by her custom mouth guard. 

This is the peace of mind Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry can give you. Don’t wait for a close call on the field to think about dental safety. Contact Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry today, your Salem pediatric dentist, and let us craft a mouth guard that fits your child perfectly.