People don’t start playing sports with the intention of injuring their teeth or mouth. Even so, oral-facial injuries, or injuries involving trauma to the face and mouth, are incredibly common. Younger athletes sustain these injuries particularly often, with more than 20,000 dental injuries occurring annually among children under the age of 18. Of those, the highest number of dental injuries of children age 13 to 17 are caused by sports and sports-related activities.
Unfortunately, injuries are a part of sports. Like any injury, a quick and accurate assessment of the damage, followed by proper treatment, can help reduce long-term negative effects, both esthetic and psychological. Below is a general list of common sports-related dental injuries, broken into three general classifications:
- Any injury to the teeth themselves. Common sports injuries typically include chipping, fractures, and avulsions (the tooth coming out of the socket). Small chips may be able to wait for treatment, but fractures and avulsions require immediate attention by a dental professional.
- Jaws (Maxilla and Mandible)
- Dislocation of the jaw, or fracture of the upper or lower jawbone, while rare, are injuries that we see. A jaw dislocation may be treatable in the emergency room and severe trauma or dislocation should be reviewed and treated by an oral surgeon.
- Soft tissue
- Bruises and cuts to the soft tissues of the facial areas are one of the most common sports injuries. Typically cuts on the face are handled in the emergency room or urgent care. Small cuts inside of the mouth should be cleaned with water and typically heal very quickly. Larger cuts in the mouth or through the lip should be evaluated with an oral surgeon for treatment.
Accurate assessment, diagnosis, and appropriate treatment are the keys to avoiding long-term health complications due to any dental or facial injury. When in doubt, always contact a dental professional to examine your individual case, and provide you with an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.