Basketball is not traditionally considered a contact sport, but over the years, players have become more aggressive and the lack of protection has led to more dental injuries.
Common oral injuries in basketball include chipped or cracked teeth, fractured roots, knocked out teeth, and tooth intrusion. They all require treatment from a dentist as soon as possible.
Discuss the importance of basketball mouthguards with your child and the consequences for not wearing them.
When you think about sports-related injuries, you may not immediately think about dental injuries. However, dental injuries are common in sports, especially basketball. Your child may be opposed to wearing a mouthguard on the court, but there are several good reasons they should start.
Basketball as a Contact Sport
Though basketball is not traditionally considered a contact sport, it has evolved into the sport with the highest occurrence of oral injuries. The combination of more aggressive players and the lack of protective gear has led to an increase in the number of dental injuries in basketball.
Research suggests that many sports-related facial injuries are preventable. This has led to the development of a dental specialty known as sports dentistry with the goal of preventing and managing orofacial injuries and related oral diseases. Specialists in the field of sports dentistry have cited mouthguards as essential protective equipment for basketball for good reason.
Common Oral Health Basketball Injuries
It may surprise you to know that dental injuries are common basketball injuries. Any blow to the head can result in a dental injury, like an elbow to the face when fighting for a rebound or a stray basketball. One NCAA player’s tooth snagged the net after dunking the ball!
Chipped or Cracked Teeth
The severity of these injuries can vary from mild cracks to missing sections that leave the root exposed. Symptoms can range from pain when biting down to intermittent pain, but your child may not experience any pain at all. The level of damage may only be noticeable by a dentist.
When a root is fractured it’s not always noticeable until an infection develops. It can occur if your child receives a blow to the face at the wrong angle. The treatment is root canal therapy to prevent tooth loss.
Knocked Out Teeth
A tooth or teeth can be knocked out. It’s possible to replace the tooth in some situations, but not always. The extent of the damage will determine whether or not a tooth can be saved.
Occasionally, a dental injury can result in a tooth being driven into the jawbone instead of being knocked out. It’s more common for children with primary teeth, but it can happen to older children and even adults. There are several complications that can be attributed to tooth intrusion.
- The tooth pulp can be destroyed or damaged beyond repair
- Root resorption is one of the most common results of a tooth intrusion meaning that the roots are shortened.
- Ankylosis can occur where the root is fused to the bone.
Convincing Your Child to Wear a Mouthguard for Basketball
While your child may be opposed to wearing a basketball mouthguard, it’s their best line of protection against dental injuries in sports. There are a few arguments you can make to help convince them to pop in that mouthguard on the court.
Cite a Role Model
Many NCAA and NBA players wear mouthguards to protect their teeth. If your child looks up to guys like Lebron James and Steph Curry, remind them that both players wear mouthguards for protection. Steph Curry got fitted for a mouthguard the day after he required seven stitches from an elbow to the mouth.
Discuss Mouthguards Versus Dental Work
Mouthguards are cheaper and less invasive than dental repairs. Discuss your child’s likelihood of injury and what the treatment would be. They could require braces (possibly again) like Mason Plumlee who had a dental injury during a college basketball game. Plumlee has worn a mouthguard during basketball ever since college. Ask your child if they’d rather have extensive dental work or wear a mouthguard during games.
Explain the Other Benefits
Mouthguards don’t just protect your child’s teeth. They also protect the jawbone and soft tissues (like the tongue!) of the mouth. In recent years, there have been arguments for mouthguards reducing the risk of concussion. Discuss the ramifications of concussions, soft tissue, and jaw injuries on your child’s play time. Isn’t a mouthguard the better alternative?
Kids Wearing Braces
If your kiddo already wears braces, then they’ve probably already been advised to wear a mouthguard. It’s extremely important to use a basketball mouthguard for braces wearers. Think about how brackets can scrape the sensitive, soft tissues on the inside of their mouth. Remind them that an injury could lengthen the amount of time they have to wear braces.
What to do if an On-Court Injury Occurs
Accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. If an injury occurs, get your child into a dentist as soon as possible to be evaluated. Remember, some dental injuries may not be obvious. In the event your child has a blow to the head, don’t wait for their next dental check-up, get them to a dentist as soon as possible.
As the Official Dentist of the Dallas Mavericks, Jefferson Dental Care understands the importance of basketball mouthguards at every level. We want basketball players at every level to be safe on the court and we’re here to patch them up if there’s an accident. Whether you’re looking for a custom mouthguard for your child or you’re in need of emergency dental care, our team can help. Contact the office nearest you for an appointment.
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