Play Sports? 3 Sports-Related Tooth Injuries And How To Treat Them

7 January 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


If you or your children play sports, then you need to know what to do if a dental injury occurs during play. The American Dental Association reports that up to 39 percent of dental injuries occur while playing sports. Dental injuries don't only occur during high-contact sports, such as football, either. Even when playing volleyball or soccer, a ball could end up hitting a player in the face or a collision with another player could end up in dental trauma. Here are three common sports-related tooth injuries and what you should do if they occur. 

1. Loosened Tooth

A blow to the mouth can lead to a tooth that feels loose. This can seem extremely alarming, as a loose adult tooth caused by gum disease is typically a bad sign. However, a tooth that becomes loose as a result of trauma feels and looks much more frightening than it is. 

A loose tooth as a result of external force is a "luxation". Resist the urge to wiggle it around, as this can damage the root further. Visit the dentist immediately, and he or she will assess the damage. Typically, a loosened tooth that has little to no root exposed can be simple repositioned back into place, and a splint will be attached to keep the tooth in place until it fully heals. 

2. Tooth Completely Knocked Out

When a tooth is completely knocked out of the mouth, it is technically called an avulsion. While this can also be a very frightening experience, an avulsed tooth can heal very well when promptly treated. 

If the knocked out tooth is a primary, or baby, tooth, then it should simply be kept out of the mouth and you should take the child to the dentist as soon as possible to assess any possible damage to other teeth or the jaw. 

If the tooth is a permanent tooth, then take the following steps:

  1. Rinse tooth with milk or saline solution. Be careful to avoid touching the root of the tooth when handling it.  
  2. Stick the tooth right back into the mouth in the spot it came from. (Really!)
  3. If for some reason you cannot stick it back in, then place tooth in a small container of milk or saline and visit the dentist immediately. The dentist may have to clean the socket out thoroughly to remove anything, such as a blood clot, that is preventing the tooth from being able to be reinserted. 

It is then very important to visit an emergency dental clinic whether the tooth was able to be reinserted immediately or not. Inserting the tooth back into the mouth is only the first step of treatment. Your dentist will likely place a splint on the tooth to keep it in place until it fully heals. He or she may also give you or your child antibiotics to avoid infection and take steps to treat any other oral damage that you don't realize occurred when the tooth was knocked out. 

3. Chipped Tooth

When a tooth breaks or a piece chips off, the first thing you should do is attempt to locate the portion that broke off. Your dentist can often (although not always) bond the piece of broken tooth back on, so if you can find it, it can make treatment much easier in some situations. Place the tooth piece or pieces in a container of milk or saline until you visit the dentist, which should be as soon as possible. 

The treatment for a chipped tooth depends greatly on how deep the chip is and whether or not the pulp of the tooth is affected. A chip that involves only the enamel or the enamel and dentin of the tooth can be repaired much more easily than a chip that exposes the pulp. 

If the pulp is exposed, your dentist may be able to preserve the remaining pulp and keep it healthy by capping it. If the pulp is greatly damaged, then your dentist may opt to remove it with a pulpotomy. 

If you or your child play sports, then wearing a mouthguard is an easy way to prevent tooth damage during play. If a tooth does become damaged, it is important to act quickly and perform the emergency treatment you can, then go to this website or visit an emergency dentist immediately for complete treatment.