Protect Your Smile: How to Prevent Sports-Related Dental Injuries

April 4, 2024

Participating in sports can be exhilarating and beneficial for your health, but it also comes with its risks, particularly to your teeth and mouth. Dental injuries in sports are not uncommon, and they can range from mild discomfort to severe emergencies that require immediate attention. Fortunately, many of these injuries can be prevented with the right precautions. In this guide, we’ll explore how to protect yourself from sports-related dental injuries by choosing the correct mouthguard and knowing the essential steps to take immediately following a dental injury.

Choosing the Right Mouthguard and Face Mask

When participating in sports, especially those with high risks of impact such as softball, baseball, football, and hockey, protecting your face and teeth is essential. Here’s how to select the appropriate gear:

  1. Types of Mouthguards:
    • Stock Mouthguards: These are pre-formed and ready to wear. They are the least expensive option available but offer the least protection because they are not tailored to fit the user’s mouth.
    • Boil and Bite Mouthguards: These mouthguards are made from thermoplastic material and can be shaped around your teeth and gums by boiling them in water and then biting into them while they are still warm. They offer a better fit than stock mouthguards and are moderately priced.
    • Custom-Fitted Mouthguards: Made by a dentist or a professional lab based on a mold taken of your teeth, these provide the best protection and comfort but are also the most expensive option.
    • Choosing the Best Fit:
      1. A good mouthguard should be comfortable, resist tears, be durable, and easy to clean, and should not restrict your breathing or speech.
      2. For athletes with braces or other dental appliances, a specially fitted mouthguard that covers these appliances is crucial to prevent impact injuries and damage to orthodontic work.
  2. Face Masks:
    • Softball and Baseball: Face masks are crucial in these sports to protect against facial injuries from flying balls or bats. They are particularly recommended for pitchers, infielders, and batters.
    • Types of Face Masks:
      1. Polycarbonate Masks: These offer high impact resistance and are lightweight, making them ideal for sports where the ball travels at high speeds.
      2. Metal Masks: Common in softball and baseball, metal masks provide sturdy protection and are designed to deflect balls, ensuring they don’t cause facial injury.
    • Fit and Visibility: Choose a mask that fits snugly but comfortably, ensuring it does not obstruct vision. Adjustable straps and padding can help achieve a better fit.

Immediate Steps to Take After a Dental Injury

Despite the best prevention efforts, accidents can happen. Here’s what to do immediately if you or someone else suffers a dental injury during sports:

  1. Assess the Situation:
    • Safety First: Ensure the environment is safe for both the injured person and those assisting. Stop any ongoing activity that might pose further risk of injury.
    • Consciousness and Severity: Check if the injured person is conscious and evaluate the severity of the injury. If there are head injuries, neck pain, or unconsciousness, stabilize the person and seek emergency medical help immediately.
  2. Handle Knocked-Out Teeth:
    • Handling the Tooth: Carefully pick up the tooth by the crown (the part that is usually exposed in the mouth) to avoid touching the root.
    • Cleaning the Tooth: If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse it under cold running water for 10 seconds. Avoid using soap or chemicals. Do not scrub it or remove any tissue attached to it.
    • Reinsertion: Try to reinsert the tooth in its socket facing the correct way. Press down gently until the crown is level with adjacent teeth. Bite down softly on a clean cloth or gauze to hold it in place. If reinsertion isn’t possible, the tooth should be kept moist at all times.
    • Storage Solutions: Place the tooth in a container with milk, saline solution, or a tooth preservation product that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Water is not recommended because its root surface cells can’t tolerate it for long periods.
  3. Caring for Cracked or Broken Teeth:
    • Cleaning: Rinse the mouth with warm water to clean out debris from the injury site.
    • Cold Compress: Apply a cold compress to the cheek or lips over the broken tooth to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
    • Temporary Measures: Cover the part of the tooth still in the mouth with dental cement if available from a drugstore, to protect the area before you get to a dentist.
  4. Soft Tissue Injuries:
    • Rinse and Inspect: If there is bleeding, rinse the mouth with a mild salt-water solution.
    • Pressure: Apply pressure to the bleeding site with a piece of clean gauze or cloth. Continue pressure for about 10-15 minutes or until the bleeding stops.
    • Cold Compress: Apply a cold compress outside the mouth or cheek in the affected area to help control the bleeding and reduce swelling.
  5. Seek Professional Care:
    • Contact a Dentist Immediately: Time is crucial, especially for knocked-out teeth. Contact a dentist to arrange for an emergency appointment. Explain the situation over the phone so they can prepare for immediate treatment upon arrival.
    • Follow-up: After initial emergency care, follow up with your dentist for further assessments and necessary treatments to restore the dental health fully.


Prevention is key when it comes to sports-related dental injuries. By choosing the right mouthguard and knowing how to respond to injuries when they occur, athletes can significantly reduce their risk of severe dental trauma. Remember, a small investment in the right protective gear can save you from the pain and expense of dental injuries in the future. Always consult with dental professionals at facilities like Logan Dental Care, who can provide customized mouthguards and expert advice tailored to your specific athletic needs.

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