Sports-related dental injuries affect all ages and all sports. Colliding with another player or the ground often causes broken teeth, lacerated tissues and teeth getting dislodged partially or completely. Teenagers may need to have wisdom teeth extracted. Whether planned or unplanned, resuming sports activity after tooth extraction will require planning and patience for a successful return to activity.
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Why Teeth Come Out
The main reason athletes accidentally lose teeth is trauma to the face from the ground, another player, a bat or a hockey stick. In these cases, both the facial injury and the teeth need to heal. A broken tooth may not be salvageable by putting a crown on it. If the tooth is extracted in a young player, either a bridge or implant post is recommended to save the rest of the teeth.
Planned vs. Unplanned Extractions
Other than sports injuries, athletes between the ages of 16 and 20 will often have wisdom teeth extracted. This is a planned procedure and will often mean a week or two of rest after the procedure. It is important to allow the gums to heal, medicines to clear your body and swelling to subside before resuming exercise. Wait for your dentist or oral surgeon to clear your return to practice.
You must follow the recommendations of your doctors before resuming activity. If you have extensive bone injuries in the face and jaw, you will likely have months of recovery ahead. Your plastic surgeon, oral surgeon and dentist will map out a plan of action for you, which includes proper nutrition, any necessary medications, rest and specific recommendations for taking care of your wounds.
Gradual Return to Exercise
It is very important to let your body heal in the first week or 10 days. If your tooth extraction was relatively straightforward, wait a week while the bleeding stops and stitches pull the gums together. Keep your heart rate towards the lower end of your exercise range, and perform a long warm-up, short exercise session and long cool-down.
Wear a mouth guard to avoid getting your teeth knocked out in the first place. Many youth, high school and college athletic associations require mouth guards for team sports such as football and basketball. However, any sport where a player may fall or collide with another person is a situation where preventing mouth problems is key. Mouth injuries are painful, expensive, and it is wise to make an effort to avoid them by taking preventive measures. Studies of football players show that even concussions can be reduced with mouth guards, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.