Sports and Your Teeth: Which Sports Rank Highest For Dental Injuries?

Happy Monday, everyone! The rain is gone, Texas is heating up, and school is just about over for students in Dallas. Of course, all of this means that summer is just around the corner. While we may not love the heat, summer does bring with it all kinds of enjoyable pastimes (Texas Rangers, anyone?). One of the most common summer activities, of course, is sports. Basketball at the park or local YMCA with friends. Baseball or softball. Swimming. Biking. Soccer. Disc golf. Flag football. Dallas is a great city for parks, athletic centers and team sports. And summer is a great time to enjoy everything our city has to offer.

Whether on an organized team or just casually with friends or your kids, staying active through playing sports is such a positive way to boost your overall health and well-being, both physically and emotionally. But as with any physical activity, sports naturally includes various risks. Dental injury due to sports is a common risk that is not just limited to children or high-contact sports like football. Interestingly enough, football is not highest-ranked sport for dental injuries. So what sport reports the highest number of dental injuries in adults? Hockey? Boxing? According to a study of intercollegiate athletes and dental injury, basketball is the highest ranked sport for dental injuries.

basketball is the ranks highest among sports for dental injuries

This is surprising considering the fact that basketball is considered a “no-contact” sport, which one would expect to rank lower than traditional contact sports. However, contact sports require or conventionally use head or face protection that is not common among no-contact sports. As such, other contact sports may have previously held higher percentages of dental injuries, but over the past several decades, the severity and commonality of dental injuries have decreased in proportion to rising awareness and use of protective gear such as helmets and custom-fitted mouth guards.

Basketball, however, is not the only “no-contact” sport that ranks high in dental injuries. Ball and stick games can be considered “no-contact” sports and yet result in a high number of dental injuries. How does that happen though? Why would basketball and baseball or softball be higher risk for tooth loss than contact sports? Those are good questions, and ultimately it seems to come down to the lack of use of mouthguards. One study states, “Although some studies cite low incidence of dental injuries,6,20¬†baseball and basketball have frequent orofacial trauma, but few participants wear mouth guards.9¬†In basketball, dental trauma often occurs from contact with other players, whereas orofacial injury in baseball is usually the result of contact with the ball.21

If you intend to play sports regularly this summer – even if you think its not a high-risk sport – we strongly encourage you to make sure you are wearing proper protective gear. And if you experience any dental injury or trauma, please contact a dental professional immediately. Untreated dental injuries can result in long-term damage and costlier procedures. So please don’t wait.

Not sure if your sports-related dental injury necessitates tooth replacement? The best way to find out is to call our office to schedule a consultation.