5 Ways Athletes Can Protect Their Teeth
It’s exciting to watch your family members and friends play sports and to cheer on the athletes in your life. But you want the same smile that steps onto the field to step off the field at the end of the game, with each tooth in place. So how can athletes protect their teeth?
Following are 5 ways athletes can protect their teeth, along with additional tips to help them maintain their oral health beyond their sports seasons.
How Athletes Can Protect Their Teeth
You may be surprised to learn that athletes can be at higher risk for oral health issues than non-athletes. Not only are they more likely to experience trauma during sporting events, but they can also be more susceptible to dry mouth, tooth decay, and more. If you’re an athlete, here are a few things you can do to protect your teeth!
- Wear A Mouthguard: This can protect your teeth from a blow to the face, cushioning your lips, tongue, and jaw as well. You can find mouthguards over the counter but should consult with your local dentist to learn the best options for you.
- Brush Regularly: Brushing twice daily is the best way to keep your teeth clean and healthy. You should brush your teeth after each meal and before bedtime. Use a soft-bristled brush. Brush gently starting at the top of the tooth and gently pushing down and outward; brush the inner, outer, and top surface of each tooth using short strokes. If you need a “refresher course,” ask your dental hygienist to demonstrate at your next dental checkup.
- Stay Hydrated: Water helps move debris away from the teeth and gums, which can help prevent decay. It also helps avoid dry mouth, which can lead to gum disease and split skin at the corners of your mouth. Choose water or drinks with no sugar.
- Avoid Sugary, Starchy Foods: Avoid the types of food that cause tooth decay. Sugar-containing foods such as candy, soda, juice, and ice cream cause tooth decay by creating acid in the mouth. It’s also important for athletes to avoid acidic drinks like cola and energy drinks.
- Schedule Regular Dental Checkups: Routine dental exams can help prevent oral health issues from becoming severe and provide ongoing maintenance against decay, gum loss, and other serious oral health concerns. Our professional dentists require periodic x-rays because they can reveal what is happening underneath the gum line and may detect serious issues, such as mouth cancer, before they escalate
Why Athletes May Be at Risk for Poor Dental Health
Athletes may be at a greater risk of developing certain types of dental problems than other people because of the type of activities they engage in. For example, athletes who participate in high-impact sports such as football, basketball, hockey, soccer, and wrestling are more prone to injuries to the jaw, face, and mouth. These injuries can result in broken bones, cuts, bruises, and even concussions.
In addition, many athletes practice rigorous physical training regimens, which means might not be eating enough nutritious food. They may also not be drinking enough water. As a result, these athletes may develop dry mouth, which can increase their risk of tooth decay. Plague increases greatly inside dry mouths.
Another reason athletes may be at increased risk for poor dental health is they often play multiple sports throughout the year. Because athletes must train intensely to compete in their chosen sport, they may not get adequate time off between games or practices. This can put them at greater risk of developing stress fractures in their jaws and teeth, leading to pain, swelling, and other oral health concerns.
If you’re an athlete experiencing pain or swelling before, during, or after an event, contact your local dentist to schedule a consultation. Susquehanna Dental Arts also provides emergency dental services in Lancaster and Your County, if needed.
Risk Factors for Poor Oral Health Among Adults Athletes
In addition to impact risk, adult athletes may increase their chance of having poor dental health through sports vaping. Some athletes believe dry herb pens can enhance their performance; however, research has found that any type of vaping has negative health effects, including cardiovascular disorders. Vaping can cause tooth decay, bad breath, gum disease, stained teeth, and more.
How To Get a Child to Use a Mouthguard
The first step when getting a child to wear a mouthguard is to explain why it’s necessary. Tell them about all the bad stuff that could happen if they don’t wear one. Then show them what it looks like and talk about how it helps protect their teeth. Next, ask them to try it on themselves. It’s best to have your family dentist monitor proper fit and to help coach your child in its importance.
It’s okay to give them a choice in which kind they choose to wear Let them know that there are different kinds available and let them pick out the ones they want. Give them a sense of control regarding this choice and situation. Mouthguards are unpleasant for adults and, naturally, they can be annoying for children.
Once they’ve made up their mind, encourage them to wear it every time they play a game or practice. Show them that it doesn’t hurt and that it will help prevent injury. The last thing you want is for your child to get injured and have no protection against damage to his or her mouth. Have your child practice placing it correctly in the mouth before the sports season begins so that it becomes a habit (and possibly your child won’t even give it another thought!