Last month, I saw two teenage patients within the span of two days who suffered injuries from playing baseball—one battled the bat, while the other encountered the ball. Fortunately, neither patient is going to lose any teeth from the injuries. But, both patients had enamel and dentin fractures that could have been prevented by wearing a sports mouth guard.
My experience with these two teens has changed some of the conversations I’m having with other patients, especially teenagers! Never before had I thought to ask a patient if they are involved in sports. Our practice has seen injuries from basketball, football, baseball, softball, skateboarding, and cycling. Now I’m sure to mention this fact to patients as a way to encourage them to wear a soft protective mouth guard when playing sports. I offer to make a sports guard for any patient who wants one to protect for their teeth. Unfortunately, many teens are more concerned with looking cool than with protecting their teeth, so most opt out of wearing a mouthpiece. Even if the patient declines, at least they are informed of the risks.
There are so many things to consider when a patient has trauma to the teeth or mouth, that it can sometimes be overwhelming. How am I supposed to remember all of the components of trauma that we studied in dental school? There is a website I have found helpful when dealing with dental trauma. It has links to select which type of trauma a patient has encountered and directions on how to test, diagnose, and treat the injury. I’ve clicked through several of the pages, and the information seems to be accurate and evidence-based. You will obviously still want to use your own knowledge, discretion, and clinical judgment. Check the site out and let me know if you think it is as helpful as I do: www.dentaltraumaguide.com.
I hope you are having a pleasant (and trauma free!) spring.
Elizabeth Cranford, DMD