An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Consider these important head and face safety tips

  • Published
  • By Virginia Bennett
  • 375th Dental Squadron

During the nice weather of summer and fall, many of us enjoy participating in outdoor or sports related activities. Along with the fun of such activities comes the increased risk of injury. Whether it be from a great baseball play or an elbow to the face while playing basketball, here are a few tips to help prevent or minimize injury to you or your loved one’s head and face.

 

WEAR A MOUTHGUARD

According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, children, high school athletes and college athletes will lose more than five million teeth in sports-related accidents this year. Just by wearing a properly fitted mouthguard, many of these accidents and many other traumatic facial injuries could be prevented.

There are three types of mouthguards: the ready-made or stock mouthguard; the mouth-formed “boil and bite” mouthguard; and the custom-made mouthguard made by a dentist. A custom-fitted professionally made mouthguard can be tailored to the athlete.

The most effective mouthguard should be tear-resistant, comfortable, fit properly, be durable, easy to clean, and not restrict speech or breathing. Remember, kids are constantly growing; if they have a mouthguard check it regularly to ensure a proper fit.

The use of an effective mouthguard holds teeth in place, resists tearing and allows for normal speech and breathing. Depending on your bite, it should cover either the upper or lower teeth as well as the gums.

 

WEAR HELMETS

Whether you are riding a bicycle, scooter or motorcycle, or playing baseball, soccer or lacrosse, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Association of Orthodontists urge you to wear a properly fitted helmet. A well-fitted helmet should sit on top of your head in a level position, covering the forehead. It should not rock back and forth or side to side.

Pay attention to the chin strap. It should fit around your ear and under your chin comfortably. How well do helmets work? In baseball alone, it is estimated that batting helmets with face guards may prevent or reduce the severity of nearly 4,000 facial injuries each year. Remember, a multi-sport helmet can be used for a variety of activities.

Don’t let a facial injury sideline you. Enjoy the pleasures of athletic activities by using common sense and taking the necessary precautions to prevent sports injuries.

What to do if your tooth gets knocked out:

·         Retrieve the tooth—avoid touching the root of the tooth, even if you are not sure if the whole tooth was knocked out;

·         Do not rub or try to scrub the tooth clean—rubbing the root surface of a tooth can kill or remove vital cells on the root surface and can decrease the chance the tooth can be re-implanted. The tooth may be GENTLY rinsed with milk or cold water for 10 seconds or less to remove any debris;

·         If able, the tooth should be gently put back in place. Hold the tooth in place by lightly biting on a soft material such as gauze or a washcloth;

·         If unable to re-implant, the tooth should be placed in milk or held in your own mouth. If there is concern that you may swallow the tooth, spit into a container and place the tooth in the spit;

·         See your dentist immediately—the likelihood a tooth can be saved rapidly decreases the longer it takes to receive professional care; and

·         Baby teeth are not re-implanted but a visit to the dentist may still be warranted if tooth was not loose prior to the trauma. This is to ensure no damage was done to the emerging adult tooth.

 

FACE-SAVING TIPS

·         Wear a mouthguard whenever you take part in a contact sport. A mouthguard can help prevent jaw, mouth and teeth injuries;

·         Protect your head from mishaps by wearing a helmet whenever you’re cycling, skateboarding or rollerblading;

·         Protect your eyes. Whenever you play active games, wear protective eyewear; and

·         Don’t get injured at sporting events. Be alert! Watch out for foul balls and flying hockey pucks. Take care when you walk up and down bleacher stairs.

For additional Information visit: Academy for Sports Dentistry at academyforsportsdentistry.org, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons at myoms.org, or American Dental Association at mouthhealthy.org.