“Helmets, shin guards, athletic cups, and knee pads are some protective equipment commonly used by athletes,” says Richard Elias, DMD, MD, an oral surgeon at Mamaroneck Oral Surgery, “However, a mouth guard is rarely seen as a mandatory piece of equipment.”
Dr. Richard Elias
With so much of the recent attention around sports safety focusing on the head (and concussions), Dr. Elias wants parents to remember not to forget about teeth, too. For those with kids in school starting to take up fall sports, a mouth guard should be on the list of essential supplies. “According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation [NYSSF], dental injuries are the most common type of orofacial injury occurring in sports,” he says. He goes on to point out that, according to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, mouth guards prevent an estimated 20,000 oral injuries in the US every year.
If the worst should happen, “It is important to take your child to the dentist immediately,” Dr. Elias says. “[Teeth that have been knocked out] may be salvaged if they are reimplanted and [teeth moved into the wrong position] may be easily realigned if they are treated in a timely fashion. Any delay may result in permanent loss of the tooth and complicate the replacement with implants or a bridge.”
If a tooth is knocked out, “Place it in a cup of milk or have the child place it under their tongue during transport to the dentist,” he says. “Never clean or brush the tooth off.”