Dentists can play a significant role in helping athletes prepare for sporting events," said Dr Bill Allen, chairman of the British Dental Association.
"Anyone taking part in sports should have a check up at least six months before an event, because a dental problem can seriously undermine sporting performance.
Athletes may risk losing their teeth because they eat healthy diets packed with carbohydrates, fruit and energy drinks, dentists have warned.
They say such substances can erode and decay teeth -decay rots teeth until they break up, erosion wears them down slowly until the patient is left with ugly stumps.
Dental erosion can also be caused by eating disorders - to which athletes are more prone than the general population - when stomach acids are brought up during enforced vomiting.
A guide to dental sports injury
Individuals who regularly take part in competitive sports will understand how easy it is to sustain mild or serious injuries while in the field of play, with previous research revealing 40 per cent of sporting injuries that occur each year consist of dental emergencies.
Pearly whites that are the most susceptible to injury are situated at the front of the mouth, which means people who suffer the loss of teeth from this area can experience a loss of self-esteem and confidence.
It is common knowledge that the majority of sports can involve an increased risk of injury from muscle strain to a broken limb, but it is vital for members of the public to know what course of action to take if they sustain a serious dental injury.
When individuals lose a tooth during a sporting event, it is important to act quickly and efficiently to increase the chances of making a full recovery. With other ailments, individuals are able to spend some time healing. However, the fact that teeth do not grow back increases the need to look after existing pearly whites.
Those who fail to seek treatment when a tooth falls out could experience difficulty eating, speaking and smiling – issues that could considerably limit a person’s quality of life.
Although aesthetics play a large part when a tooth has fallen out as a result of a sporting injury, wider health issues can also emerge. Increased pressure placed on the remaining teeth and jaw can lead to a variety of aches and pains from tooth grinding, to shooting pains down the neck, back and shoulders.
Is my sporting injury a dental emergency?
Many individuals who have sustained a serious dental injury in the playing field fail to notice the severity of their ailment until the game is over. However, it is vital for sports players to treat the issue with appropriate care and consideration as the timeliness of a corrective procedure could see they make a full recovery.
Individuals who ensure they receive treatment as soon as possible are often more likely to save their teeth than those who fail to book an appointment with an emergency dentist soon after their accident.
The most common types of dental sporting injuries fall into four categories, which are:
1. A tooth that has been fully knocked out.
2. A pearly white that has become dislodged so that it is hanging loosely or driven deeper into the gum and jaw, which can damage the root.
3. Severely chipped, broken or split teeth.
4. Painful and deep cuts to the inside of the mouth, tongue, lips or damage to the jawbone.
Each of these types of injury does warrant immediate treatment by a dentist within an hour of the accident occurring, with many people experiencing wider issues when knocking their teeth.
Although damage to the cheek and face may only be superficial, sports players should ensure they seek professional treatment rather than merely receiving a temporary solution from their coach at the side of the pitch.
Can treatment be given straight away?
Cuts and scrapes to the mouth and face can produce a lot of blood due to the strong supply to this area of the body. It is vital for injured sports players not to panic in a bid to ensure the issue does not get worse as a result. In addition, players should determine how serious the injuries are and where the dental damage lies in the list of priorities.
If a heavy head injury has been sustained, individuals should not rush back into the game due to the increased risk of a number of wider health issues, such as concussion and dental damage that need to be examined initially.
The type of treatment that is required is usually determined when an examination has taken place. Dental professionals recommend that medical treatment should be received within one hour, particularly if it involves a dislodged or missing tooth.
Individuals who have suffered a chipped or fractured tooth may experience a lot of pain and discomfort. Therefore, lodging a piece of sugar-free gum onto the damaged tooth is recommended to stop the cold air reaching the open space.
In cases where a tooth has become dislodged and moved out of place, it is often possible to save the pearly white. Patients should not pull the tooth out and apply a cold compress to the face in a bid to reduce any pain or swelling that has been caused. Patients should ensure they visit an emergency dentist as soon as possible.
A sports player whose tooth has been knocked out completely should try to ensure they do not panic and seek treatment from an emergency dentist as soon as possible. Individuals who sustain this type of injury should locate their tooth before visiting a dental professional to allow it to be fixed back into the socket.
Accidents involving an injury to the mouth, head and face can have long-term repercussions, which means it is imperative for patients to receive the all-clear before heading back onto the playing field.
In many cases, dental ailments caused by a blow to the head or face are accompanied by a case of concussion. Therefore, rushing away to see an emergency dentist is not recommended and individuals should be driven by a friend or family member to make sure they remain as safe as possible.
Eating, drinking and talking can become more difficult after an injury of the teeth or face is sustained. Additionally, the temporomandibular joint’s balance can experience long-term damage as a result of an accident during high-contact activities. This is one of the body’s most complex joints and can cause aches and spasms in other parts of the body.
A dental professional is able to offer advice and expertise regarding the severity of a sporting injury, with some treatment required over a long-term period to make sure a full recovery is made. Dental experts recommend people who have suffered from dental trauma attend regular appointments to monitor the progress of recovery and examine affected areas in more detail when swelling and bruising have reduced.
How can I prevent dental injury?
Wearing a mouth guard is the most important actions a sports player can take to ensure they do not experience a serious injury on the playing field. There are a wide variety of these appliances on the market that are suited to members of the public playing an array of sports.
In order to provide the most protection, mouth guards should be comfortable to wear and at least 4mm thick. This can reduce impact and protect the teeth from high pressure that often occurs during a sports match.
While a standard mouth guard that is usually boiled in water is the cheapest, it is often the least effective and so is not recommended for individuals playing high-contact sports such as ice hockey or rugby.
This type of protection is suitable to be worn by young people whose mouth is yet to fully develop and a new, more efficient mouth guard will need to be purchased in the future.
Sports players taking part in activities that could result in a more serious injury should contact their dental professional about purchasing a high-quality mouth guard that is custom-fitted to each individual’s teeth.
Older people whose pearly whites have ceased growing are the ideal candidates to wear this appliance, although it is commonly more expensive to purchase. Members of the public who wear this type of mouth guard will find it is much easier to breathe and speak while wearing a specialist fixture.