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Ensuring athletes' dental well-being in sports arena


Sun. 3 December 2023


By Dr Amna Bilal

Participating in sports not only promotes physical and mental well-being but also necessitates prioritising safety, including safeguarding teeth. However, amid the pursuit of peak performance, the significance of dental care for athletes is sometimes overlooked.

Whether engaging in recreational pastimes or contact sports, there is always a risk of oral injury, making dental care crucial for athletes, who should be provided practical advice for protecting teeth during physical activities.

Engaging in sports exposes athletes to the possibility of injuries from hits, falls, and collisions, resulting in soft tissue injuries and dental traumas such as cracked, chipped, or knocked-out teeth. The severity of risks varies depending on the intensity and nature of the sport, underscoring the critical importance of dental protection across all athletic disciplines. Even non-contact sports like skating, gymnastics, and cycling carry the potential for mishaps leading to oral pain.

Mouthguards, also known as mouth protectors, play a pivotal role in minimising the risk of tooth injury for athletes. These specialised or boil-and-bite appliances act as a barrier between the teeth, lips, and cheeks, effectively absorbing and redistributing impacts. Properly fitted mouthguards not only protect teeth but also serve as shock absorbers, reducing the likelihood of concussions and other head injuries.

Athletes should opt for mouthguards tailored to their specific sport. High-contact sports demand robust mouthguards capable of withstanding major blows, while less-contact sports necessitate lighter, more comfortable options that do not hinder speech or breathing. Dental professionals can provide guidance on the most suitable mouthguards based on individual needs and sports requirements.

Custom-fitted mouthguards, crafted based on an athlete's teeth imprints, offer maximum protection, enhanced comfort, and improved stability during rigorous physical activities. They can also minimise the severity of dental injuries, preserve dental work like braces or retainers, and promote proper hydration, crucial for preventing dental issues associated with dry mouth.

To ensure optimal performance, mouthguards require regular cleaning with toothpaste and replacement when worn out or damaged. Athletes should diligently clean their mouthguards after each use and promptly replace any broken or deteriorated pieces to maintain their protective efficacy.

Despite precautions, accidents may occur, necessitating swift action. In the event of oral injuries, rinsing the mouth, applying cold compresses, and seeking prompt dental care are essential. If a tooth is displaced or knocked out, handling it with care and seeking immediate professional attention is crucial for successful reattachment.

In Conclusion Dental care stands as a vital component of overall well-being, particularly for athletes vulnerable to oral injuries. By prioritising oral health through custom-fitted mouthguards, preventive measures, and preparedness for dental emergencies, athletes can safeguard their smiles, maintain performance levels, and uphold their overall health both on and off the field. Remember, prioritising good oral health and safety is the cornerstone of a winning smile.

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