Sports Dentistry – Prevention & treatments of sportsperson oral injuries

Written by Dr. Priti Santi

August 29, 2019

We celebrate National Sports Day in India on the 29th of August. This day marks the birthdate of hockey player Major Dhyan Chand. He is a hockey legend who has won gold medals for India at the Olympics in the years 1928, 1932 and 1936. In schools all over the country, children participate in the Sports Day function in the sport of their choice. Although many parents may not realize the importance of sports, we should always encourage children to partake in sports activities for good physical and mental health. 

Khelo India youth games initiative 

Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India started an initiative in 2018 called the Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG). The games take place every year in January or February, wherein they provide the top 1000 players with an annual scholarship of 5 lakhs for 8 years to train them for international competitions. Additionally, there are some excellent sports NGOs in India such as Khelo Rugby in Kolkata which helps underprivileged children through the sport of rugby. Another NGO based in Rajasthan called Hockey Village India acts as an affiliate partner of the governing body of Hockey in India.

Sports dentistry

Sports dentistry is an upcoming field in dental science which deals with the prevention and treatment of oral injuries and disease due to sports. Dental injuries are more common than you think. Every year, 5 million people in America lose teeth due to sports-related injuries whereas the numbers are more in India. Athletes are much more prone to dental injuries when they don’t wear a mouth guard.

Generally, In sports dentistry, the dentist recommends preventing any dental injuries with the use of a mouth guard. A mouth guard is an appliance that athletes wear to protect their teeth while playing a sport. It is also prescribed to patients who have a habit of grinding their teeth at night. You can get one at a sporting goods store which is available in three different sizes. Alternatively, the dentist can prepare a customized mouth guard that will fit you perfectly. 

Many times, patients come into the dental clinic with a chipped tooth due to a sports injury. One of the most common complaints is a fractured or cracked tooth due to a hard blow to the face. Generally, a cracked tooth causes pain while chewing or it may not be noticed until the next dental check-up. Many times, the patient experiences that the tooth has completely fallen out. 

‘Extrusion’ of a tooth occurs when the tooth comes a little out of its socket due to some force. Sometimes, a tooth has become ‘intruded’ which means the force of the blow drove the tooth deeper inside the jaw. It is more common in young children because their bones are not fully developed. Children and teenagers who wear braces must be extra careful while playing sports as the injuries tend to be worse for patients with braces. 

Treatment for sports related injuries 

The treatment for sports-related dental injuries depends upon the type and severity of the injury. If a tooth is cracked but relatively stable in the mouth, it is possible to restore it with a root canal treatment. On the other hand, the dentist may suggest pulling the tooth out if that is the best option. Some accidents require surgeries like tissue grafting when there is damage to the oral tissues. Also, if there is swelling with pus formation then you may need a surgical draining procedure.

In many cases, if the tooth is just chipped or eroded you can restore it with a filling. When teeth are lost, it is best to replace them as soon as possible to prevent further problems. There are a lot of types of dental prosthetics you can go for, ranging from dentures to crowns to implants.

People who are used to clenching or grinding their teeth together face problems such as wearing of the teeth and jaw pain. Ultimately, the joint of the jaws can become problematic. You should be cautious while consuming very hard foods and use a mouth guard while playing a sport.

Today’s youth is becoming more and more fitness-oriented by the day. People are adopting healthier lifestyles by changing their eating habits as well as exercising right. Truly, a good fitness routine does wonders for health. Just remember to take care of your pearly whites while playing sports. 

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