CHICAGO--Traumatic dental injuries and knocked out teeth are most often associated with football or hockey but spring sports, such as soccer and baseball, can present just as big a risk.
Soccer players are approximately eight times more likely to suffer dental injuries than football players, and nearly 20 percent of baseball players will experience a dental injury.
As such, the American Association of Endodontists is urging young athletes to "watch their mouths" as part of its 2008 Root Canal Awareness Week campaign. The initiative, which takes place March 30 to April 5, focuses on important dental education and is part of AAE's ongoing commitment to promoting the value of preserving natural teeth.
An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer a dental injury such as a knocked out, or avulsed, tooth when not wearing a protective mouth guard, and the number of sports-related dental injuries is increasing. Considering this, the AAE urges all coaches and parents to enforce mouth guard use in an effort to protect young athletes' natural teeth.
According to an official position statement released by the Association, mouth guards are recommended for all sports, including spring sports such as lacrosse, softball, track and field and gymnastics. Mouth guard usage prevents an estimated 200,000 injuries a year.
"Mouth guards are not just for kids that play rough contact sports," said Shepard S. Goldstein, DMD, AAE president, and an endodontist from Framingham, Mass. "It is essential that children's teeth be protected from dental injury when they play any physical sport, which is why this year's Root Canal Awareness Week message is so important. The AAE wants athletes, coaches and parents to know that mouth guard use is imperative for all sports, even those not commonly thought of as being hazardous."
Mouth guards are available in three common varieties: the stock, or
"one-size-fits-all" mouth guard, the mouth-formed "boil-and-bite" mouth guard, and the dentist-made custom mouth guard.
While custom mouth guards professionally fitted by a dentist offer the best protection from dental injury, using any type of mouth guard helps to safeguard natural teeth and reduce the chance of dental trauma. When using mouth guards, it's important to properly maintain and clean them to prevent any possible infections.
In the event that a tooth is knocked out or injured, an endodontist should be consulted as soon as possible to increase the chances of saving the natural tooth. Endodontists are experts in treating traumatic tooth injuries and are often the best resource for preserving the natural tooth.
Endodontists specialize in root canal treatment, the procedure commonly needed to successfully repair and ultimately save the tooth. When a tooth is knocked out, the AAE recommends the following steps to increase the likelihood that the natural tooth can be preserved:
* Pick up the tooth by the chewing surface, not the root. Avoid handling the root to minimize injury.
* If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse with water. Do not use soap or chemicals or scrub the tooth and do not dry by wrapping in cloth or tissue.
* Reposition the tooth in the socket, if possible. Carefully push the tooth into the socket if possible and close mouth slowly. Hold the tooth in place with your fingers or by gently biting down on it.
* Keep the tooth moist. If the tooth cannot be replaced in the socket, place it in a glass of milk or in the mouth next to the cheek. If these options are not practical, use water with a pinch of salt.
* See an endodontist within 30 minutes. Seeking treatment from a root canal specialist can greatly improve the chances of successfully saving the tooth. Though it is possible to save the tooth even if it has been outside the mouth for 30 minutes or more, the chances of success are less the longer the tooth is out of the mouth.
According to Dr. Goldstein, endodontists are well seasoned in handling dental emergencies.
"Knowing how to efficiently treat dental trauma is part of endodontists' advanced training. If a child's tooth is injured during sports, a local endodontist can mend the tooth with a root canal treatment, making it good as new for life."
Sponsored by the AAE, Root Canal Awareness Week provides an opportunity to raise awareness of endodontics as a specialty, as well as highlight the importance of endodontists, the dentists who specialize in root canal treatment. The week also seeks to dispel long-standing myths about root canal treatment and increase understanding of the procedure as one that is virtually painless.
For more information on local Root Canal Awareness Week activities, the importance of mouth guards, or to find an endodontist in your area, visit Root Canal Awareness Week.
For more information, visit the AAE Web site at American Association of Endodontists.
To read more about the AAE, go to American Association of Endodontists.