When you work on keeping your child sporting star healthy, don’t forget to give their teeth some attention too. Just like the rest of a child’s bodily health, dental health can take a beating from athletic activities if special care isn’t taken to prevent problems. Here are four tips that will ensure your little athlete has a great smile when they’re on the first place podium.
Keep Your Child Hydrated…
Most parents of child athletes know how important it is to keep the children hydrated during sports sessions. However, while the benefits for the body are well-known, many people don’t realise the positive effects hydration has on oral health as well.
If children get dehydrated, their saliva production will decrease. Aside from assisting with the eating process, saliva is also essential in preventing tooth decay. Saliva helps wash away harmful bacteria from your child’s teeth and contains minerals that protect the enamel and gums.
Dry mouth is common among athletes, so make sure you combat it by encouraging your child to stay hydrated.
… But Not With Sports Drinks
Of course, it’s important to make sure that your child hydrates with the right drinks.
Many parents offer their child athletes sugary sports drinks to keep up their energy and replenish lost electrolytes, but these beverages can be very harmful to teeth. All the sugars and acids in sports drinks attack the mouth, wearing down enamel and leading to cavities. In fact, a study conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry in Chicago found that sports drinks were even more likely to cause erosion than other popular soft drinks.
Generally, child athletes don’t participate in such intense activity that they need to replenish electrolytes. After a typical youth game, a healthy glass of water should suffice, along with a tooth-friendly snack like cheese if required. For children who do need a sports drink after competing, opt for a sugar-free option and have your child rinse his or her mouth out with water afterwards to wash away some of the acids.
Get Your Child a Mouthguard
If your child plays any sport that may result in a blow to the face (such as soccer, hockey, rugby or basketball), it’s a good idea to get a mouthguard. Mouthguards are protective devices that fit over children’s teeth and reduce their risk of dental injuries. Without a mouth guard, kids are 60 times more likely to suffer tooth damage, but many parents still don’t encourage their child to wear one.
There are many types of mouthguards on the market (such as off-the-shelf guards and boil-and-bite guards), but custom-fitted mouthguards are the best choice for maximum tooth protection as they cover the teeth perfectly.
Put Knocked Out Teeth Back In
While mouthguards do a great job at protecting children from most dental injuries, accidents can still happen. If your child’s tooth does get knocked out during an intense sporting match, the best thing you can do is re-insert the tooth and get to an emergency dentist as soon as possible. If you do, a dentist may be able to reattach the tooth permanently.
As soon as the tooth gets knocked out, find it, rinse it in milk if it’s dirty and then put it back in your child’s tooth socket. Be very careful not to touch the delicate root of the tooth when doing this. If you can’t get the tooth back in your child’s mouth for any reason, keep it in a special tooth-preserving solution or a glass of milk while you travel to the dentist.
When you arrive, if your child’s tooth is able to be saved, the emergency dentist will create a ‘splint’ that holds the tooth in place, allowing it to reattach to the jaw over the next few weeks. If the tooth isn’t in good enough condition to be reattached or if the reattachment process fails, your dentist will be able to advise you and your child about cosmetic options to replace it.
Alongside these four tips, remember that one of the best things a child athlete can do to keep his or her teeth in top condition is to visit a dentist regularly. For great family dental care, book an appointment at Dental Smile Frankston.