Some sports are rougher than others. For example, hockey players almost expect to get a concussion or lose a tooth during the course of their careers. However, if you just play sports recreationally, damage to your face or body can cost a lot of money.
For example, if your tooth is knocked out, you’ll pay a pretty penny to get the situation fixed by the dentist.
However, you don’t have to sit around and wait for something bad to happen to you. It is possible to keep your teeth safe, even while enjoying some of the more dangerous sports. You simply have to have the correct gear to protect your mouth while you play.
Preventing Teeth Injuries in Sports
The first item that can help protect you when you play a contact sport like hockey or football is a helmet. It is best to look for one that has a face guard.
Hockey and football both require that their players wear a helmet anyway.
Therefore, take it to the next level and get one with a face guard so that you ensure you are as safe as possible. In addition, when shopping for a helmet, look for a product created specifically for the sport that you play. Hockey helmets and football helmets, for example, are different.
Do your research and don’t take chances when it comes to your health.
In addition to a helmet, you need to wear a mouth guard when you are playing a contact sport. You should obviously wear a mouth guard when playing football or hockey, but it is just as important to wear one when playing baseball or any sport that has a ball or stick.
There are a lot of cheap mouth guards that you can pick up at the store.
Most of them instruct you to place them in boiling water for a certain period of time, allow them to cool and then place them in your mouth so that the guard is fitted to your bite.
Be aware, though, that this cheaper option does not always feel good in the mouth and may not work as well as something more expensive. Your dentist or orthodontist can make a mouth guard for you; this option costs more but is often well worth it in the end and a lot cheaper than emergency dentist treatment.
Pay Attention to Your Conditions
It is important to note that you need to pay attention to your personal safety even if you are not involved in a contact sport. Solo sports, like skiing and cycling, can be dangerous, too. For example, it is possible to fall off of your bike and hit the ground.
If you are not wearing the proper equipment, your head and mouth could be injured as a result. You never know what could happen, so it is best to be prepared.
Do not ever leave your helmet at home if you are skiing, skating or cycling. Find a helmet that was designed for the activity that you are engaging in. It is also smart to pop in a mouth guard as well.
Along with that, it is highly unlikely that you will knock out a tooth in the swimming pool, although there is a slight possibility that you could hit your mouth against something. However, even still, it is important to keep your mouth protected if you plan to be in the water a lot.
For example, pay attention to the maintenance of your pool. If the water is too acidic, your teeth could yellow, be more sensitive and have a lot of enamel erosion. You can help prevent such a problem by using toothpaste that works to make enamel stronger.
Also, be aware of when the pool is maintained and if it seems to be taken care of properly.
In addition to the above advice, try swimming with your mouth closed. Do not allow your teeth to interact with the chlorinated water. This will help with the issues mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Cavities and Tooth Erosion in Sports
Exercising comes with a lot of benefits, from stronger, leaner body to a healthier heart and brain. It also relieves stress and can enhance your immunity, so exercising does impact your entire body.
But have you ever wondered how can it impact your oral health?
People who exercise frequently are prone to developing cavities and other oral health issues.
According to Sports Dietitians Australia,
“Recent reviews of dental health in elite athletes showed that they are at higher risk of dental caries and erosion. In some cases, the increased rate of erosion has been linked to consumption of sports products, including sports drinks, intra-workout supplements and carbohydrate gels or sports lollies.”
One of the most important lessons we all learn from Pediatric Dentistry specialists is to avoid foods and drinks high in sugars and acidity. Unfortunately, athletes are relying on sport drinks to stay fit and hydrated.
These contain a lot of electrolytes, but are also very acid. All that acid can destroy their teeth in only five days of regular consumption.
Another problem is the fact fitness addicts and athletes take small sips from their energy drinks all the time, which keeps their teeth and mouth full of sugars and acid at all times.
During exercises people breathe deeply, often with their mouth open.
This reduces the amount of saliva in your mouth, promoting tooth decay. Saliva is meant to neutralize the harmful bacteria, so when your mouth is dry, bacteria builds up and destroys your teeth.
Despite all these problems, exercising can be good for your teeth.
Studies revealed that frequent exercising improves your gums’ condition.
Athletes and people who had a fix exercising regime had a lower risk of developing periodontal disease, compared to those who never exercised. Even people who exercise from time to time had a lower risk of developing gum disease.
Another benefit of exercising on your oral health is the low BMI. High body mass index is associated with diabetes and hypertension, which lead to tooth decay.
Exercising balances your BMI, keeping it at a healthy level.
What is Tooth Erosion?
The tooth is the most robust organ in the body. Its main component is calcium, which is the same mineral as that of the bones. For this reason, a person’s teeth can withstand almost anything.
The shiny outer part of the tooth is the tooth enamel. It is the strongest part of the tooth and is the first line of defense against cavities. However, despite its strength, its constant contact with acids makes it vulnerable to enamel erosion. Acids that came from:
- The oral mucous to help break down food
- The stomach, which is sometimes due to reflux
- Food and liquids, such as caffeinated drinks
- Toxin-releasing organisms, such as bacteria
Tooth wear-and-tear also happen from bruxism or teeth-grinding during sleep and specific medication side effects. So, before you slurp down your next soda, think about what will happen to your teeth. Soda is the primary public enemy in terms of having dental enamel erosion, which is a common and often painful condition.
Tooth erosion is the most common reason for tooth enamel damage. As it happens gradually, the signs and symptoms go unnoticed. Here are some of the things that you need to watch out:
- Discoloration: Teeth that are yellow, extra shiny, and have dark spots are possible signs of enamel loss.
- Surface Texture: A rough feeling on the tooth surface is one of the initial signs of enamel loss. Tooth cupping, the indentations that are caused by damage to the tooth enamel, cause the roughness.
- Sensitivity: Tooth enamel erosion causes heightened sensitivity to hot or cold foods. The sensitivity increases as the damage progress.
- Mouth Odor: Other than causing tooth erosion, bacteria buildup on tooth also causes bad breath.
When enamel erosion happens, the tooth becomes vulnerable to tooth decay. If the enamel loss is apparent, the best way to save the tooth is to undergo tooth enamel restoration. The dentist usually recommends a root canal, a dental crown or veneer, an implant, or a dental bridge.
Before, if you have tooth erosion or worst tooth decay, an extraction will be most likely advised. But now, with the aid of advanced technology and improved dental instruments, it is highly possible that your damaged tooth will be restored and saved through root canal treatment.
Root canal treatment alleviates the pain from decay and infection. Some people are unwilling to undergo this extensive treatment. But with the help of anesthesia and improved dental techniques, the root canal procedure is now easier and more comfortable.
Recommended Read: Root Canal Treatment: Everything you need to know
Dental Crowns or Porcelain Veneers
A dental crown increases the strength and improves the appearance of the damaged tooth. It is the best treatment for severely broken enamel. A dental crown naturally blends with the teeth. For this reason, it is also commonly used in dental cosmetics for teeth alignment and color correction.
A porcelain veneer is an alternative option for dental crowns. It helps correct minor tooth shape changes due to enamel erosion. However, porcelain veneers are less durable compared to dental crowns.
A dental implant comes in if a tooth cannot be saved anymore. It is a dental appliance made from porcelain and high-grade titanium. The implantation happens through a minor surgical procedure that involves the gum and jaw bone. Dental implants strengthen the jaw bone and improve the elasticity of the facial muscles.
With technological advancement, dental implant procedures are now less painful. Moreover, new innovative designs, like the one found in sites like G4 by Golpa, are available on the market. These new dental solutions can give you a perfect smile in just a day after the procedure. G4 by Golpa prices may be inquired through their website.
Recommended Read: Indications You May Need a Dental Implant
A dental bridge is needed if a tooth is missing in between 2 adjacent teeth that are being restored. It is fixed to dental crowns that are already placed on the teeth. Dental bridges also help to prevent misalignment of teeth due to the gap created due to a missing tooth.
How Can You Prevent Tooth Enamel Erosion as an Athlete?
Prevention is always better than cure. And to prevent enamel erosion and to maintain that perfect smile, follow this simple formula – brush, floss, and rinse. Moreover, be sure to visit your dentist at least every six months for regular assessment and dental cleaning.
If you love fitness and you want to have healthy teeth you can adjust your habits to make sure you get both. The first step is to rely on plain water for hydration.
You can drink energy drinks from time to time, but make sure your main hydration source is water, which prevents tooth decay.
Coconut water can be another option, because it is healthy, it gives you an energy boost and balances the sugar level in your blood.
Practice nose breathing, which is healthier for your lungs and keeps your teeth healthy.
You can try to find a specific breathing technique, like the Buteyko method, or simply avoid breathing with your mouth open.
On top of these, make sure to brush your teeth twice a day, floss as needed, use mouthwash and keep up with your annual dentist appointments. After all, nothing beats a good oral healthy regime.
You may also do the following:
- Lessen or remove acidic foods from your regular diet. It includes citrus fruits and juices like lemons and oranges, sugary products, processed foods like corned beef, and carbonated sodas.
- If intake cannot be avoided, brush, and rinse your mouth right after eating acidic foods. If brushing is impossible to do, you may just rinse your mouth with clean water.
- Be conscious of your snacks. Snacking on sweets and other starchy foods make your teeth more prone to tooth erosion and decay. Prevent frequent snacking on sweets unless you will be able to brush your teeth and do a mouthwash.
- Try chewing sugar-free xylitol gum. Chewing increases your saliva production, which improves oral health. Xylitol decreases acidity in the food.
- Hydrate with water.
- Brush with fluoride-added toothpaste.
- Choose alcohol-free mouthwashes and toothpaste. Alcohol increases the chance of dry mouth.
- Check any medication, like aspirin that might cause enamel erosion. Ask your doctor for alternative medication or change the dosage, if possible.
- If you have bruxism or teeth grinding, consult with your dentist for proper treatment. A mouthguard is the best tool to prevent enamel loss with this condition.
Good Read: The Best and Worst Food for Your Teeth
Concluding Thoughts – Teeth Injuries and Sports
It is always a good idea to speak to your dentist about the sports that you play and to ask any questions that you have.
Even with its strength, the tooth enamel is still vulnerable to damage. But, with the right oral hygiene, proper diet, and regular dental check-ups, you will be able to maintain a perfect smile.
Your dentist can give you recommendations on which helmet to buy. He can also create a mouth guard specifically for you, so that you know it will work properly when you need it the most.
Combine all these tips, and you can keep your teeth healthy as an athlete!
Additional Resource: Most Common Football Injuries