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What do the following have in common?
- A bat
- A ball
- A knee or elbow
- A hard surface, such as the ground or the bottom of a swimming pool
They all are things that could easily come into contact with your child's mouth when participating in sports. And they all have the potential for damaging or knocking out teeth, or fracturing or dislocating a jaw. High-risk activities include "contact" sports, such as football, boxing, martial arts (including karate and kick-boxing) and hockey, as well as non-contact sports such as basketball, baseball, bicycle riding, roller-blading, soccer, wrestling, racquetball, surfing, and skateboarding.
Even swimming, with all of its gentility, poses serious hazards for your child's teeth. Common swimming pool accidents occur when children, swimming underwater, quickly ascend to the surface, hitting the hard ledge, and loosening the front tooth. Running on slippery, slick cement and ceramic pool surfaces also can send your child headfirst into the ground, increasing the likelihood of a chipped or loose tooth.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, many sports-related emergencies involving teeth can be avoided by following the rules and remembering dental first aid steps. If your child participates in any sports, a mouth guard is a smart investment. Mouth guards are soft plastic devices that fit over the front of your child's mouth, protecting his teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums from sports-related injuries. A well-fitting mouth guard can protect your child from injuries to the teeth, face, and even some severe injuries to the head.