Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FAMILY matters

Mouth guards protect teeth from injuries

As an orthodontist, one of the most rewarding things I do is removing the braces from the teeth of my young patients. Their teeth are nicely aligned, they can look forward to much better dental health and function. And seeing the beautiful smiles on the faces of patients is what it is all about.

Most of my patients come in for routine adjustments, but sometimes I have to treat teeth that have been severely displaced because of an accident. While some accidents are entirely unpredictable, dental damage due to sports is fairly common.

Not too long ago a 12-year-old who had just completed comprehensive orthodontic treatment was back in my office. A baseball took a bad bounce in the infield during a game, whacking the boy in the mouth and knocking out his front teeth. He was rushed to a pediatric dentist, who immediately put the teeth back in place and stabilized them with a light wire.

After 10 days of healing from the procedure he was sent to me to realign his upper and lower front teeth.

He had to wear braces for another six months to repair the damage from that one errant baseball.

That pain, inconvenience and cost could have been avoided if my young patient had been wearing a properly fitted mouth guard.

This is National Facial Protection Month, and mouth guards are one of the least expensive pieces of protective equipment available. Over-the-counter versions cost as little as $5. Custom-fitted mouth guards offer better fit and function. But any protection is better than none at all.

Not only do mouth guards save teeth and protect jaws from breaks, they may also protect against neck injuries and central nervous system injuries by decreasing the force transmitted through the jaw to the base of the skull.

A 2009 survey of parents conducted by the American Association of Orthodontists found only about a third of young athletes wore mouth guards, even though one-fourth of the parents surveyed said their child had sustained an injury during an organized sport that resulted in a trip to the emergency room. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that in 2006, for those under age 15, the largest percentage of injuries are associated with the head, face, mouth or ears.

Consistent use of other types of protective equipment is also important. Helmets save lives and prevent head injuries. They should be worn for activities such as bicycling, skateboarding, inline skating — any activity that puts the head at risk.

Face guards, devices made of plastic or metal that attach to baseball helmets, help to prevent facial injuries as well.

If despite all your precautions you do suffer a broken or knocked out tooth, you can often save it with prompt and careful action.

Broken tooth

• Clean the injured area and apply ice.

• Save the tip of the tooth (for possible reattachment) and call your dentist right away.

Knocked out tooth

• Locate the tooth; hold it by the crown (the wide part, not the pointed end/root).

• Do not rub or touch the root!

• Rinse the tooth only if needed to remove debris.

• Put the tooth back in its socket; cover with gauze or tissue and bite down to stabilize it. Or you can briefly store the tooth in cold milk or salt water, or between the cheek and gum.

• Do not let the tooth dry out.

• See your dentist immediately.

Barbara Marston Perez, DMD, practices at Perez Orthodontics in Tampa. She is offering free custom-fitted mouth guards to youngsters in South Tampa at her office at 1906 S MacDill Ave. Call (813) 374-2007 for an appointment. For more information, visit perezorthodontics.com.

Three types of mouth guards

• Stock mouth guards are inexpensive, but since they are not custom-fit, they can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.

• Boil-and-bite mouth guards are available at many sporting goods stores, and offer a better fit than stock mouth guards. They should be softened in water, then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of the mouth.

• Custom-fitted mouth guards are made by a dentist in a dental office or laboratory. An impression is taken of the teeth and a mouth guard is created using the model.

SOURCE: American Dental Association

Mouth guards protect teeth from injuries 04/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 22, 2011 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Even presidents get sinkholes: One has formed at Trump's Mar-a-Lago

    Bizarre News

    Even presidential mansions are susceptible to sinkholes — especially if they're in Florida.

    A sinkhole has formed in front of President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in south Florida.
  2. Colt Prattes and Abigail Breslin do the iconic lift scene in the remake of Dirty Dancing on ABC.
  3. Goodbye Tampa Bay Express, hello Tampa Bay Next; but toll lanes aren't going anywhere

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay Express is dead.

    But it's replacement — Tampa Bay Next — will likely include many of the same projects, including express toll lanes on the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. DOT officials say there are still re-evaluating the most controversial aspect of the old TBX plan: spend $6 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area highways - Interstates 4,75 and 275 - that are currently free of tolls. But TBN will keep the plan to add express toll lanes to the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  4. Trigaux: Tampa Bay lands on Forbes 2017 ranking of best places for young professionals

    Working Life

    Consider this one more notch in the belt of Tampa Bay starting to win serious attention from millennials as place to live and build a career.

    Mike Griffin is a senior managing director in Tampa for Savills Studley Occupier Services, which provides integrated real estate services. He is also chairman for 2017 of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the first of the next generation of leadership emerging in this metro market. [Courtesy of Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce]
  5. Column: Trump beat Bush, Rubio but has become an 'establishment sellout'

    Blogs

    NYT’s Ross Douthat's Sunday column: Donald Trump, Establishment Sellout