Participating in regular physical activities, such as sports, is a very important key component of a healthy lifestyle. Current research indicates that regular exercise and involvement in sports can help you or your children aid growth, lose weight, stay healthy and even improve the mental state. However, participation in any sport or physical activity also carries the potential for sustaining injuries for both children and adults.

Unfortunately, the preventive approach is almost missing among most of the training programs for sports related personnel. Most of the programs focus only on the treatment and rehabilitation of the injured athlete. Generally speaking, prevention can take the form implementation of some modifications in training, use of perfectly designed preventive equipments, and in the total elimination of unsafe practices.

Published research papers emphasizing the preventive approach within the Sports Dentistry field through the use of mouthguards have yielded an enormous reduction in injury rates and consequently an enormous reduction in health care costs.

From the dental point of view and before you or your children participate in any exercise or sport; make sure you take the necessary precautions to prevent injuries. Here are some easy steps you can take to prevent the most common orofacial injuries.

Please ask yourself these questions before getting in the game:

Is your child ready for participating in team sports? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends team sports only for children six years of age and older. This is because of two reasons:

  1. Mental and emotional ability: most children younger than six do not understand the concepts and rules of team play, and may not have the emotional development and eagerness to play.
  2. Physical ability and age-appropriate skills: there are things a 13 years old can do (such as throwing a curve ball in basketball) that an 8 year old could not do because of the differences in physical and skills developments. Generally, large number of sports injuries that we always deal with is related to faulty techniques (such as during tackling and falling) and participation of younger athletes with older ones in vigorous competitions. The golden rule is never to push your children to play sports too soon as this may increase the risk of injury.

Did you choose the right place to practice? Enroll your children in organized sports through schools, community clubs, and recreation leagues where there may be qualified personnel who are trained in the prevention, recognition and immediate care of athletic injuries.

In fact, dental trauma does not pose a significant morbid risk for traumatized athletes; however, the long term consequences of mismanagement can be hazardous.

Are you a good model for your children? Be Careful and do not follow marketing schemes, claims, and promotions by Stock and Mouth Formed Mouthguard companies. Go to your dentist and wear Custom Made Mouthguard. When kids see parents practicing proper protection, they are more likely to comply.

As a general rule, wearing appropriate protective gear and equipment as custom made mouthguards, helmets, gloves, protective pads and other equipment are not for sissies. Protective equipment that fits you well can safe for example: your teeth, eyes, head, hands and knees.

Did you pick some elite models? Point out to kids how elite athletes are smart about the equipment they use and how they play or exercise.

Are your children feeling their responsibilities? Let the dentist help you protect your child. There are so many colors of mouthguards to choose that kids can pick the look they want. Let them choose; let them understand why they are wearing mouthguards and why they choose Custom Made Mouthguards fabricated by their dentist. They will continue to wear mouthguards that they have chosen.

Do you continuously remind them? Children are famous for having short attention spans. Always, repeat the safety rules over and over again.

During the Game

Do you regularly check their mouthguards? They should be clean and fit properly. Worn mouthguards should be replaced. Moreover, remember that children at the mixed dentition period (approximately 6-12 years old) should be supplied with mouthguard that provide adequate space for the developing jaw and the erupting teeth or sometimes mouthguard replacement.

Do you teach your children not to play through discomfort or pain? It won’t make them tougher to have recurrent trauma to previously injured loose teeth or TMJ (Tempro-Mandibular Joint) and it could make injuries even worse and treatment more difficult. The coach needs to learn this lesson, too!

Do you always meet your children’s coach? Coaches should enforce all the rules of the game, encourage safe play, and understand the special injury risks that young players face. For example, Coaches must know that replantation of an avulsed tooth should preferably be done at the site of injury and be able to replant the tooth within the first 15-20 min.

Is help handy? Make sure first aid is available at all games and practice. One of the dentally important items is special storage media for avulsed teeth supplied in specialized transport containers. They are used in cases of inability of immediate teeth replantations. These media offer excellent protection to dental tissues and hence increase the rate of success of replantation (e.g. Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution {HBSS}® or Viaspan®).

After the game

Do you let injuries heal completely? Even when, for example a tooth, TMJ or lips have been injured, minimize long-term damage by allowing the affected area to heal completely before participating in the sport again. It’s important not to push your child to play while in pain. This could make the injury worse.

The rules are designed, in part, to keep things safe. This is extremely important for anyone who participates in a contact sport. Unfortunately, sometimes these rules do not enforce the mandatory use of some important protective gear and equipment, as custom made mouthguards, to keep athletes safe. So, in these circumstances, you are obliged to know the appropriate ways for protection and follow them.