Sports-Related Dental Injuries: Understanding The Various Types Of Sports You'Re Playing And Potential Injuries

Athletes need to be aware of the potential risk of experiencing a sports-related physical or dental injury as well as how to prevent the injury from occurring. The first step in doing this is learning how activities and sports are classified. There are several classifications when it comes to sports and physical activities that range from little-to-no risk of injury to an incredibly high risk of injury. Read on to learn these categories, the types of sports that are involved and how you can prevent sports-related facial and oral injuries.

Non-Contact, Low-Velocity Sports

These particular types of physical activities and sports are the lowest risk out of them all in terms of suffering an injury. Usually, these sports involve athletes that perform on their own, individually, with no physical contact. Some examples could include weight lifting, swimming, running and golf. Ultimately, there is very little risk of any dental injuries occurring in these sports. For example, with swimming, the most common type of injury that frequent swimmers may endure is stained teeth from the chemicals in the pool water, which is known as swimmers' calculus.

Non-Contact, High-Velocity Sports

These particular types of physical activities and sports involve athletes who are moving at a high rate of speed, but there is no form of physical contact with other athletes. However, accidents can still occur in these sports since the athletes are moving quickly. Some examples could include skiing, skateboarding, snowboarding, motocross and bicycling. According to, fractures of the cheekbone, which consist of roughly 10 percent of sports-related maxillofacial injuries, are possible with these sports, and males tend to be more prone to these fractures because of the increase in physical contact during sports as compared to females.

Contact Sports

These particular types of physical activities and sports involve athletes who make direct contact with other individuals or equipment. The contact could be body-to-body or body-to-equipment, and this contact may occur frequently but not all the time. Some examples include baseball, softball, soccer, basketball and lacrosse. One of the most dramatic injuries that could occur to the oral cavity during sports is the complete avulsion of one of your teeth. As many as 16 percent of all mouth-related injuries involve an avulsed tooth, which is a tooth that is completely knocked out of its socket.

Collision Sports

These particular types of activities and sports involve athletes who make contact with equipment or another body with a very strong force. Ultimately, this is the primary goal of the activity or sport, so there is a very high risk of serious injury to the body, head and face, including dental injuries. Some examples could include ice hockey, football, boxing and rugby. According to, fractures of the mandible (jawbone) are common when athletes strike another player, hard surface, or equipment, and these fractures could result in the alteration of proper growth of a child's lower face.

How You Can Prevent Sports-Related Dental Injuries in These Sports

Although it isn't necessary in low-velocity, non-contact sports, any type of physical activity or sport that consists of high velocity or any kind of physical contact with a piece of equipment or another athlete requires plenty of protection. This is particularly true when it comes to the head and face. Without the proper gear, there is a very high chance of a head or oral-facial injury occurring. Athletes can combat this by wearing the sport-appropriate protective gear, such as helmets and facemasks. However, to further protect the mouth from dental injuries, such as a knocked-out tooth, a custom-made mouth guard from a dentist is recommended. In fact, roughly 200,000 football-related dental injuries are prevented every year thanks to the use of custom-fit mouth guards.

Contact your dentist (or orthodontist if you have braces) to get a mouth guard made for you before you partake in sporting events and extreme physical activity. If you've already suffered an injury, visit your dentist for treatment and then have a mouth guard made to prevent future dental injuries while playing sports.