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It seems that all year long we wait for summer to come around and before we know it, it’s here.
When summer does finally arrive, we tend to spend more time outdoors, participating in a wide variety of sports and other activities under the sun: Think biking, boating, water skiing, skateboarding, swimming and summer camp for the kids as just a few of the summer activities that may be on the menu. However, failure to take safety precautions into account for certain activities can be a recipe for disaster. Case in point: I treat significantly more dental injuries to both kids and adults during the summer months. The good news is that the majority of these injuries are preventable.
To get the most out of your summer, let’s take a look at some of the more common summer related dental injuries and what you can do to avoid them.
Water related dental injuries
Whether in a lake, a pool, or even running through a backyard sprinkler, it’s not uncommon to chip or fracture a tooth, particularly a front tooth.
Swimming, diving and water sports
-When swimming laps, it may happen that you hit the concrete wall at the end of the pool. If your eyes are closed, you can easily fracture a tooth
-Crowded swimming pools can lead to an elbow to the mouth and dental injury
-Sports like water polo can result in a ball to the face, causing dental injury
Tip: Prevent swimming; diving and water related injuries by wearing a custom made mouth guard and swimming goggles
A custom made mouth guard (made in the dental office) can prevent dental trauma. I emphasize custom because they are more effective than a store bought mouth guard for the simple reason that it fits better. Mouth guards are very easy to make at the dental office and are more affordable than you think.
Jet Skiing or Water Skiing
-Falling off of a jet ski or getting hit in the face with a ski while water skiing can result in injuries to the head, temporomandibular joints (TMJ) or directly to the mouth itself
Tip: Prevent water skiing injuries by wearing a helmet and a custom made mouth guard
Common sports related dental injuries
• Basketball, football or soccer: a ball to the face
• Baseball: a ball to the face, flung bat or sliding into base
• Skateboarding/biking/in-line skating: a fall can result in injuries to the skull, TMJ or directly to the mouth, causing severe dental trauma
Tip: Prevent common sports related dental injuries by wearing a helmet and a custom made mouth guard
Any injury to the mouth can result in different degrees of trauma to the teeth. The best case scenario, if you’re lucky, is when most of the trauma is absorbed by the soft tissues. It may result in a swollen or split lip, but spare your teeth. However, more often than not there is chipping of the teeth, which can range from a small chip to exposure of the nerve and the need for a root canal. It’s even possible to have a tooth come out or ‘avulsed’. Read more about children and common dental injuries.
The summer is a time when kids are eating more popsicles, ice cream, chocolate and even delicacies like cotton candy. If this is the case, it’s a good time to practice and improve one’s oral hygiene. If these ‘sugars’ just sit around the teeth for long periods of time, decay will most likely result. You may want to consider chewing gum with xylitol in it, as this is a substance which helps to fight tooth decay.
Don’t fret, have fun and enjoy your summer…but consider protecting your child – and yourself – when participating in the above mentioned activities with a form fitting mouth guard, protective eyewear and, where necessary, a helmet. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
About Dr. Robert Axelrad
Practicing dentistry for over 24 years, Dr. Robert Axelrad is a Brampton dentist who owns and manages his own dental practice in Brampton, Ontario. Affectionately known as ‘The Gentle Dentist‘, his patients include children, adults and seniors. Dr. Axelrad recently moved his practice to its current, state-of-the-art dental office at Bestgate Professional Center in in 2002 to accommodate his growing list of happy patients.