In mid-November 2015 Ronda Rousey, the undefeated UFC fighter, fought and lost in a now infamous match against Holly Holm, in Melbourne. Rousey had her teeth knocked loose and suffered such injuries that she has not been able to fight since, and won’t be able to until her injuries heal.
Every year, we witness professional athletes make headlines due to dental injuries. Sure, these traumatic incidents make for good viral videos, but the result is clearly painful and rather serious for the athlete. Dental injuries commonly sideline sportspeople for extended periods of time.
Take Damian Martin, the Perth Wildcats’ captain, for example; after breaking his jaw late last year, he had to have his teeth splintered and two metal plates surgically inserted into his jaw before he could play again!
We know better than most, just how far dentistry has come, but the fact remains that prevention is always better than a cure. The best way to avoid dental injuries during sport is by wearing a professionally made, custom mouthguard. Designed specifically to lessen the impact of blows to the teeth and skull, wearing a professional mouthguard can significantly reduce trauma to your teeth in the event of an accident.
Dental O So Gentle, for example, can adjust the thickness of your mouthguard to suit the specific sport you’re playing and to achieve the best balance between comfort and protection.Take Elliot Yeo, from the West Coast Eagles, who had his two front teeth break off at the root and Buddy Franklin, a Hawthorn Hawk at the time, who had a whole tooth ripped out completely. Neither one was wearing his mouthguard – they both had them tucked in their socks!
No matter how strong your mouthguard is or how snugly it fits in your mouth, if you aren’t wearing your mouthguard in your mouth they’re not going to do much good. We don’t design mouthguards to protect your shins!
Yet, despite our best efforts, accidents do accidentally happen, even off the field!
So what do you do if you have a dental injury?
- If a tooth comes out completely, hold on to it! Keep it in your mouth or store it in milk if it’s available.
- See your dentist immediately. Dental injuries require urgent attention.
- Have your injury examined by a professional. Make sure to get digital radiographs, so you can get a proper assessment of the damage and determine the appropriate treatment.
What are the most common dental injuries and how would you treat them?
- Broken Teeth – treatment includes composite resin restoration or a porcelain crown/veneer.
- Displaced Teeth – possible repositioning and splintering in place while the tissues heal.
- Broken Bone – if the bone is broken, it may be necessary to have an Oral Surgeon assess the area. Root canal treatment could be necessary if the nerve dies, becomes exposed or infected. Occasionally, a tooth will even need to be removed. But, don’t worry – the tooth can usually be replaced with either a fixed porcelain bridge, or an implant.
No matter what happens, it’s always important to ensure you have regular follow-up examinations and radiographs to check for changes over time.
While we love helping our patients achieve the smile they want, we’d rather not see you come in with a dental injury! So always remember to wear your mouthguard, take care of your dental health and keep your smile looking beautiful!
By Rohan Jagota, Dentist