Athletes and Their Oral Health

Sports equipmentWhether you are a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, protecting your mouth, face, head, and neck should be a priority when you participate in your favorite sport or activity.  Taking the appropriate protective measures while on the court, field, rink, or ring can save you from serious injury and costly dental repairs.

What sports pose a threat to oral health?

Any sport that presents the chance of contact or collision with anotherColliding person, object, or surface can potentially cause injury to the teeth, jaws, and oral soft tissue.  These sports include, but are not limited to, football, basketball, soccer, hockey, boxing, and lacrosse.  Individuals who participate in sports, such as biking, inline skating, or skateboarding, also are at risk for injury.

How do mouth guards protect my mouth?

Mouth guard in hockey playerA custom mouth guard made by Dr. Marinic covers the upper teeth with a soft, flexible material that prevents serious injuries, such as broken teeth, jaw fractures, cerebral hemorrhage, and neck injuries, by decreasing the chance of the lower jaw jamming into the upper jaw or being pushed back into the temporomandibular (jaw) joint.  Mouth guards also are effective in preventing laceration (cutting) and bruising of the lips and cheeks.  Mouth guards may reduce the severity and incidence of concussions as well.

What other types of protection do I need?Hockey players equipment

Helmets are very important when participating in sports that involve speed and impact.  Properly fitted helmets can prevent major head injuries, as well as facial and neck injuries.  Helmets should always fit well and be fastened correctly.   For certain sports, other protective gear, such as facemasks and body pads, also should be worn.

What do I do if I experience trauma to my mouth?

If you experience an injury to your mouth, including major lacerations to yourKobe Bryant injured lips, cheeks, or gums, seek medical attention immediately.  If you break, chip, or lose a tooth, or experience minor injury to your gums, tongue or cheeks, contact Dr. Marinic immediately.  If you seek treatment immediately after the injury occurs, Dr. Marinic often can save knocked-out teeth and repair minor chips and cracks with appropriate dental materials.  Make an appointment to visit Dr. Marinic for evaluation if your tooth changes color, if you experience any dental pain, or if you notice any swelling in or around your mouth following trauma.

What should I tell Dr. Marinic about my physical activities?

Dr. Marinic talking to patientInform Dr. Marinic if you participate in sports or recreational activities. He can give you tips on how to best protect your mouth, face, head, and neck during these activities.  Because mouth injuries can be painful and costly, Dr. Marinic recommends that all athletes take preventative measures at all times.