Which Sports Are Worst For Your Teeth?

A variety of sports balls and equiptment in a pile

Sports are highly enjoyed by not only Americans but also most other countries in the world. Playing a sport is seen as a fun form of physical activity as well as a way to bond with others and even make friends.

However, the fast-paced aspect of them can make your teeth vulnerable to damage. According to the American Dental Assistants’ Association, five million Americans lose teeth in sports-related injuries every year.

Find out which sports are the most dangerous for your smile and how to protect yourself from tooth loss or damage.

1. Basketball

When you think of dangerous contact sports, basketball probably isn’t on the top of the list for you. While it is a fast-paced sport, it doesn’t seem nearly as harmful to your teeth as other ones such as hockey and boxing, right?

Basketball is a contact sport, but there are strict regulations to avoid players from being pushed or knocked over. Unlike sports that require you to tackle or fight, the main objective of this sport is to grab get the ball from other players and keep them from getting it in the hoops.

Surprisingly, basketball has been found to be the most dangerous sport for your teeth. This is often due to a lack of protection and the close proximity between the players. In fact, the same source reported basketball to have the highest amount of injuries in general among males and females.

While people who play sports like football and boxing are required to wear mouth guards, basketball players aren’t. Due to increasing injuries, many professional basketball players have begun wearing mouthguards. Since they started doing this, the number of dental injuries has decreased drastically.

men-playing-basketball

2. Baseball

Baseball is another sport that can be damaging to your smile. While the contact is kept to a minimum, it’s still considered a contact sport because you’re required to tag other players. While they’re not encouraged, collisions also occur that can result in injuries.

One dangerous factor of baseball is the size and density of the ball. Since it’s one of the hardest balls used in sports and is hit or thrown at speeds of up to 165 mph, it can do serious damage when it hits your face.

In one study alone, it reported 14 jaw fractures. It also reported that children between the ages of 7-12 were at the highest risk of dental injuries while playing baseball.

closeup-of-man-throwing-a-baseball

Protecting Your Smile During Sports

Playing a sport is essential for people of all ages. It helps you enjoy exercising, relieve stress, and increase your happiness. Instead of being afraid to play or let your children play, knowing how to protect you and your loved ones from oral injuries is crucial.

The best way to keep your smile safe is by wearing a mouthguard along with any other protective gear recommended for that sport. Knowing which sports work best for you or your child is important as well.

Receiving a Customized Mouthguard

Studies show that mouthguards are an effective way to protect yourself from oral injuries. Generic, store-bought ones, however, can cause more harm than good if they don’t fit the mouth properly. Ill-fitting mouthpieces can make it more likely for your teeth to shift or break when hit by a direct blow.

Dentists can create a custom device that’s made to fit each tooth perfectly, protecting them from damage. They’ll take x-rays and use them to mold your new mouthguard.

An experienced dentist, Dr. Al Villalobos, also says that “Mouth guards have also been shown to help decrease the risk of concussions.”

young-child-wearing-a-mouthguard

Wear Proper Protective Gear

Every sport has different protective gear that is either required or strongly recommended. While some sports like football require full-body pads and a helmet, other sports don’t require any.

Basketball and baseball are two of the most dangerous sports for your smile due to the fact that little to no gear is worn while playing them. Dentists who study the placement of your teeth, like Dr. Kenneth Troutman, say that it’s crucial to wear helmets, face masks, or pads as frequently as possible during these sports to avoid potential tooth loss.

Consider Non-Contact Sports

If you’re prone to injuries or don’t want to spend additional money on protective gear, you may want to consider non-contact sports like:

  • Tennis
  • Swimming
  • Bicycling
  • Volleyball

These sports are still a great way to exercise, but reduce the risk of oral injuries including tooth loss.

Repairing a Damaged Smile

Many people are passionate about sports and play as often as they can no matter the risks. Since oral injuries are likely to occur, it’s essential to know how to handle them. That’s why we recommend visiting a local, experienced dentist like Dr. Maggie T. Chao to fix your smile if it becomes damaged.

While cracked, broken, or even lost teeth can permanently affect your smile, dental treatments are available to restore them. Dental implants are the perfect solution for replacing lost teeth, while crowns and veneers are great for fixing more minor injuries.

Although these restorations can make it look like you never damaged your teeth, it’s always best to protect your natural teeth with a mouthguard.