Protecting Your Child’s Teeth When They Play Sports

Mission Viejo, CA – It’s back to school season yet again! Your kids are heading back to classes, and you are busy figuring out how you’re going to get them to their extra-curricular activities. From dance classes to football, tutoring, baseball, and more. The busier they are, the better.

Getting them involved in sports is a great way to get your kids outdoors and on their way to a healthy adult life. They get some fresh air, lots of exercise, and some new friends. Not only that, but your kids will also develop discipline, teamwork, and endurance.

However, despite these amazing benefits, playing sports also poses the risk of injuries to the face and teeth. Our pediatric dentist, Dr. Sara, has seen it all – chipped, cracked, and even fully knocked-out teeth. All because of a rogue baseball, a flailing elbow hitting the mouth, or a nasty fall.

Despite the risk, we still love sports. So no matter how old your kids are, it is very important to take the necessary precautions to protect their teeth while they stay active.

1. Wear A Helmet

Simple? Yes.

Attractive? Not so much.

Coaches suggest wearing helmets for sports like football, hockey, biking, and baseball. These are sports that involve lots of contact and pucks or balls flying at incredibly fast speeds.  A helmet is important for keeping the head safe from concussions or worse. Since children are still growing, their skull and jaw bones are softer, making them more susceptible to injury.

Without a helmet, your kid could easily get their teeth knocked out if they accidentally catch the ball with their face.

Avoid the injury. Wear a helmet.

2. Swimmers – Stick To Well-Maintained Pools

While it might bleach your hair, you wouldn’t usually think of swimming pools as something that could affect your child’s teeth. However, long amounts of time spent in a swimming pool could result in enamel erosion. If the pH in the swimming pool is too low, your teeth may develop “swimmer’s calculus”, resulting in ultra-sensitive and yellow-stained teeth.

The solution? Make sure to only let your kids use swimming pools that are well-maintained to protect their teeth in sports. Also encourage them to keep their mouths closed while underwater, to minimize the amount of chlorine that comes into contact with their teeth.

3. Get A Mouth Guard

For any sport that involves bats, balls, sticks, and physical contact – mouth guards are your best bet. This small piece of equipment can go a long way when it comes to protecting your kids’ pearly whites. There are a few different kinds that you could get:

Generic. These are relatively inexpensive and can be bought over the counter. They are usually “one size fits all”. Since they aren’t fitted to the wearer’s individual mouth, they might not protect the teeth as well.

“Boil and Bite”.  These kinds of mouth guards are semi-fitted. After soaking them in boiling water, they can be sculpted to fit your mouth.

Custom fitted. Although they may be more expensive, custom fitted mouth guards are the best option to protect your child’s teeth.

Orthodontic. For kids that wear braces, mouthguards are a necessity. Orthodontic mouthguards are made from silicone and they keep the metal wires and brackets from rubbing against sensitive tissue in the mouth. According to Dr. Gorantla from Smiles Orthodontics in Wichita, KS, these mouthguards also absorb any contact shock, keeping the sensitive teeth and braces safe. They’re the best option for kids with braces because they’re moldable and will move with the teeth as they shift.

If your child is using a mouth guard, remind him or her to keep it clean and safely stored away. Wet or dirty mouth guards can easily grow bacteria that can harm the teeth and cause plaque to grow.

4. Lay Off the Sugary Drinks

Many companies advertise sports drinks with electrolytes and sodium without mentioning the sugar content. Check the nutritional information to see exactly how much sugar is in each because sugar can cause tooth decay. 

While the occasional sports drink or juice is okay, remember to consume everything in moderation. Unless your child is playing out in the heat for over an hour, regular water will do the trick.

5. Eat Healthily!

Exercise makes you hungry! Make sure your kids have healthy snacks to munch on before and after practice. Some healthy foods for teeth include cheese, apples, carrots, and nuts. They are rich in vitamins and minerals necessary for bone growth.

Whatever sport your kids are involved in, make sure that they know how to protect their precious smiles.  When they’re young, a slightly chipped tooth might look adorable, but they won’t appreciate the look too much when they’re adults.

For healthy teeth and gums, bring your kids in for regular appointments with our pediatric dentist in Mission Viejo. Our team of dentists at New Generation Dentistry is equipped to protect your child’s teeth! Book an appointment or call us today to schedule a visit.

Updated for 2018.