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Mouthguards and Sports Safety

Dental Emergencies That Result From a Sport Injury

Knowing how to handle a dental emergency can mean the difference between saving or losing your tooth. Here are some helpful tips:

Knocked-out tooth

  • Keep the tooth moist. Do not let it dry.
  • Hold it by the top and rinse the bottom in water if it’s dirty.
  • Do not scrub the tooth, rub the root or remove any attached tissue pieces!
  • If you can, gently put the tooth in its socket and hold it in place.
  • If you can’t put it back in the socket, put the tooth in a container with milk.
  • Take your tooth to your dentist as soon as possible — ideally within 20 minutes for the best chance of successfully keeping your tooth.

Cracked or broken tooth

  • Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area.
  • Put an ice pack or washcloth with ice wrapped inside on your face to keep any swelling down.
  • Go to your dentist right away.
  • If you can find the piece of broken tooth, bring it with you to the dentist.
  • Wrap the tooth piece in some wet gauze or a wet towel, if possible.

Jaw possibly broken

  • Put an ice pack or ice wrapped with a washcloth on your jaw to control the swelling.
  • Go to your dentist or a hospital emergency room as soon as possible.

Objects caught between teeth

  • Gently try to remove the object with dental floss.
  • If you can’t remove it, go to your dentist.
  • Do NOT use a sharp or pointed tool like a needle or a pencil to try to remove it.


  • Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it out.
  • Gently use dental floss to get rid of any food caught between your teeth.
  • Never put aspirin right on your aching tooth or gums.
  • Go to your dentist as soon as possible.

Bitten tongue or lip

  • Gently clean the area with a cloth and put an ice pack on it to keep the swelling down.
  • If bleeding is heavy or doesn’t stop in a short amount of time, go to your dentist or an emergency center.
  • Prevent Injuries

Mouthguards, the MVP (Most Valuable Protection)

When it comes to protecting your smile during active sports, a properly fitted mouthguard is a key piece of athletic gear. Mouthguards cushion impact that may otherwise cause broken teeth, jaw injuries, or cuts to your lips, tongue or face.

Mouthguards are most commonly used (and may be required) in some contact sports, such as boxing, football, hockey and lacrosse. However, there is evidence that even in other contact and non-contact sports like soccer, baseball, softball, gymnastics or skateboarding, mouthguards help prevent mouth and jaw injuries.

Find a mouthguard that fits

Pick a mouthguard that:

  • ideally has been custom made by a dentist.
  • has enough flex that it won’t tear or break, yet is thick enough to hold up to a heavy hit.
  • fits properly and is comfortable.
  • is easy to clean.
  • doesn’t limit speech or breathing.
  • fits well enough to stay in place.

Your dentist can make you or your child a custom mouthguard that is comfortable and protects the jaw. Ready-made mouthguards may be cheaper, but do not fit as well and can make it harder to speak or breathe. The less comfortable the mouthguard, the less likely it will be worn regularly. If it doesn’t fit properly, it is not protective.

If you do choose to buy a ready-made mouthguard, be sure to look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Mouthguards that have earned the ADA Seal mean that they were tested and proven to help protect your teeth and mouth from injury when used as directed.

Treating a sports-related dental injury can cost thousands of dollars, so buying a mouthguard can be money well spent. Talk about types of mouthguards with your dentist and select one that works for your needs and budget.

Remember: The best mouthguard is one that fits properly and is worn regularly

Protect your smile.

The American Dental Association and the Academy for Sports Dentistry recommend that you wear a properly fitted mouthguard if you participate in any of the following activities:Acrobatics





Equestrian Events

Extreme Sports

Field Hockey




Ice Hockey

Inline Skating


Martial Arts











Track & Field Events

Ultimate Frisbee


Water Polo



The Do’s and Don’ts of Using and Taking Care of Your Mouthguard


  • Rinse your mouthguard before and after each use.
  • Keep your mouthguard fresh and clean it with cool, soapy water. Be sure to rinse it off really well.
  • Store it in a container that is firm but still lets air in.
  • Check for wear and replace it when it no longer fits properly.
  • Wear your mouthguard during both practice and in games.
  • Schedule a visit to see your dentist for regular check-ups. Make sure you go before each sports season starts. Be sure to bring your mouthguard!


  • Don’t put your mouthguard in the sun or in hot water; it could melt or lose its special shape to fit your mouth.
  • Don’t wear removable appliances like retainers with your mouthguard.
  • Don’t chew on it or cut pieces off of your mouthguard because it will change the way your mouthguard fits and it won’t protect your mouth as well as it should. See your dentist if you need to adjust the fit.

Additional Sport Safety Tips

Don’t chew!

  • Don’t chew gum while playing sports. A fall or push could cause you to choke.
  • Don’t chew tobacco ever, especially when playing sports. Not only does it increase your risk of oral cancer and gum disease, but you can choke on it, too.
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