Sports and Children’s Dental Health: 5 Tips for Parents in Lawton, OK

Keep your child's teeth safe during sports.

Sports and related events are a common part of childhood. Not only is it good for their bodies—physical activity is always a plus—it’s good for their self-confidence as well. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 50% of kids between the ages of six and 17 have participated in some sport over the last 12 months.

But with kids’ sports comes great responsibility. If you are a parent of a youngster engaged in athletic activities, you need to know some things about children’s dental health.

Hazards Associated with Sports and Dental Health for Kids 

Like we said above, sports are great for kids. Participation means lower rates of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem and confidence, less substance abuse and fewer risky behaviors, increased cognitive performance, and so much more. But, sports come with some inherent dangers and risks.

Here are a few risks that parents need to be aware of.

  • Chipped Teeth: It’s pretty common for kids to chip a tooth while playing sports. A fastball or a fall can do it.
  • Knocked-Out Teeth: Sometimes, a tooth might get knocked out during a game. This is serious and needs quick dental care.
  • Jaw Injuries: Sports like soccer, basketball, and football can lead to jaw injuries, affecting how a child eats or speaks.
  • Risk to Adult Teeth: Even if it’s just baby teeth getting hurt, there’s a risk to the adult teeth underneath.
  • The Need for Ongoing Care: Dental injuries from sports can mean trips to the dentist for years to fix the problems caused.

Tips for Protecting Your Child’s Dental Health

Thankfully, there are things you can do to protect your child’s teeth, even if they are active in athletic activities. And don’t worry, the solution is not pulling them off the field.

1. Wearing the Right Protective Gear

The number one thing to do as a parent is to ensure your child is wearing the appropriate protective gear when they’re in the game. This might mean a helmet, shoulder pads, or other protective outerwear. But, for high contact sports such as football, hockey, and wrestling, we also recommend the use of a mouth guard. These oral appliances can help protect your child’s mouth should there be an impact.

2. Hydration 

Kids expend a lot of energy when they are out on the field or on the ice. While that’s a good thing, it can also lead to dehydration. Have your child drink water about 30 minutes before their game or session begins. Then, ensure they get in some good gulps every 15-20 minutes during play.

Proper hydration will help to replace the fluids your child loses through sweat. It will also help them to maintain their performance and normal body function. Plus, it reduces the risk of heat-related stress.

3. Pre-Season Dental Check-Up 

Bringing your child in for a visit to the best dentist in Lawton before the season begins is an excellent idea. This gives us an opportunity to look at your child’s teeth and jaw and identify any potential issues that could get in the way of a great season. However, it is also a great way for us to fit your child for a custom mouth guard. Trust us, custom mouth guards are far more comfortable than the ones you can purchase off the shelf at your local drugstore.

4. Educating Yourself on Signs of Dental Injuries 

Educating yourself about the signs of dental injuries is a must. Know what to look out for, like loose teeth, bleeding gums, or pain in the mouth. And, know what to do in the event your child has a knocked-out tooth. This knowledge means you can act fast if an injury happens.

5. Safe Practices and Emergency Preparedness 

Practicing safe sports habits and being ready for emergencies can make a big difference. Teach your child to play safely and follow the rules. Also, keep a dental emergency kit handy, and know the quickest route to Sheppard Family Dental Care. Being prepared can help protect your child’s smile, no matter the sport.

Other Oral Health Reminders for Kids

Of course, your kids can do plenty of things off the field to protect their oral health too. Remind your children of the importance of brushing their teeth twice daily for two minutes at a time. And teach them how to floss properly to loosen food particles that may have become stuck between the teeth throughout the day. Finally, help them to find a fluoridated mouthwash that they enjoy, so they can rinse and freshen their mouths before bedtime.

In addition to taking good care of their teeth and gums as part of their oral hygiene, teach them the importance of good nutrition. Encourage eating tooth-friendly foods that support stronger dental enamel. Foods rich in calcium, like milk, cheese, and leafy greens, or those high in phosphorus, such as eggs and fish, can help strengthen teeth.

Also, crunchy fruits and vegetables, like apples and carrots, can naturally clean teeth and gums. These healthy choices are awesome for overall health and help build a stronger, healthier smile for your young athlete.

Preventing Sports-Related Dental Injuries

We love seeing kids engage in sports, but we want to ensure they are doing what they can to prevent sports injuries. At Sheppard Family Dental Care, we’re experts in kids dentistry, and we firmly believe that our safety tips can help save teeth.

So, if your child is an athlete, schedule an appointment with us today. We’ll fit them for a mouth guard and ensure your child’s teeth are set up for success, on and off the field.