Sports Safety for Kids Mouths & Orthodontic Emergencies

Your child’s dental health is a top priority when it comes to their involvement in sports, especially during orthodontic treatment. Whether your child has metal braces, a retainer, or clear aligners like Invisalign, their mouth needs to be adequately protected to avoid painful injuries and permanent mouth damage.

Our doctors and experienced Sycamore Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry team have seen all regarding damage from sports-related injuries. While you probably won’t have a real orthodontic emergency during treatment, avoiding tooth and mouth injuries in children while playing sports can be as simple as using protective gear like a mouthguard.

Sports and Dental Injuries

You can still play sports during treatment with Sycamore Orthodontics but check your appliances and mouth immediately if you have an accident during your athletic activity. If your appliances appear damaged or the teeth loosened, schedule an appointment for repair immediately.

When we evaluate and treat dental injuries, a quick assessment and early treatment is our primary goal. The most common injuries are tooth fractures, commonly referred to as a ‘chipped tooth,’ and soft tissue lacerations or cuts on your gums, tongue, or cheeks due to direct impact to or with the area. While inspecting for these types of injuries, we also check the motion of your jaw to address any jaw dislocation. 

Some patients may experience a more profound oral injury, such as luxation. A tooth may become displaced but still in the socket or even an avulsion in which the tooth becomes wholly dislocated. 

Sports-Related Mouth Protection

Getting a kid to wear a mouthguard may seem as difficult as getting them to eat vegetables. Still, it is one of the most inexpensive ways to protect your child’s teeth, tongue, gums, and cheeks from trauma during extra-curricular activities. 

Orofacial and dental injuries are a risk for participants of all ages, genders, and skill levels during any type of sports at every level. While most dental injuries happen during collision and contact sports, they can also occur in limited-contact, non-contact, and high-velocity activities.

Currently, the American Dental Association recommends the use of a properly fitting mouthguard in the following activities:

Contact/Collison Sports



Combat Sports



Hockey (Ice and Field)


Martial Arts



Water Polo


Limited-Contact and Other Sports




Equestrian Events

Field Events


Inline Skating











Choosing and Caring for your Mouthguards

Mouthguards come in many different options, but according to the ADA Council of Scientific Affairs and Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention, an ideal mouthguard should:

  • Be adequately fitted to the wearer’s mouth and accurately adapted to their oral structures
  • Be made of resilient material approved by the FDA and cover all remaining teeth on one arch
  • Stay in place comfortably and securely
  • Be physiologically compatible with the wearer
  • Be relatively easy to clean
  • Have high-impact energy absorption to reduce or limit transmitted forces upon impact

Consult with your orthodontist to ensure the mouthguard will fit over your appliances and not damage the device or harm your mouth if an impact occurs. 

You’ll know you have a good fit if it is comfortable, offers adequate coverage, and doesn’t interfere with speaking or breathing. Take a look at the most common types of mouthguards:

Pre-Made Mouthguards

The pre-made option is the most common mouthguard due to availability. These mouthguards come in various sizes and colors to suit any smile. Stock mouthguards are the least effective option because they have a generic design that doesn’t adapt to your mouth. 

“Boil-and-Bite” Mouthguards

Mouth-formed mouthguards, or “boil-and-bite” mouthguards, are designed to be warmed in water to become permeable and then cooled slightly to be placed in the mouth and bitten down to create a customized fit. These are also available in sporting goods stores or online. We can help facilitate the proper forming around dental appliances in some cases. 

Custom-made Mouthguards

Custom mouthguards are fabricated in a dental office or lab from impressions using thermoforming techniques to be fully customized to your mouth. While this is often the most expensive option for oral protection, the balanced occlusion and maximized tooth contact reduce the risk of mouthguard displacement during high-impact activity.  

Orthodontic Emergencies

Here are some of the more common injuries we see in our Sycamore office and how to handle them:

Fractured Tooth

A fractured tooth is often far scarier than the reality of the experience. To stabilize the broken or chipped tooth and control any bleeding, bite gently on a towel as you head to our office. If the tooth piece has come out completely, you can transport it in milk, under your tongue, or in saline-soaked gauze. 

Missing Tooth

If the whole tooth has come out, pick the tooth up by the crown and do not touch the roots. Gently rinse it in water and place the tooth back into the socket it came from, gently biting down on a towel to hold it in place as you head to the emergency dentist. As unbelievable as it may seem, a tooth placed back into the socket within 5 minutes of ejection can be permanently saved. 

Extruded or Laterally Displaced Tooth 

This injury will look like a tooth is longer than usual and often appears with the displaced tooth being pushed back or pulled forward. To reposition this tooth, firm but precise pressure is needed, which is most effectively performed by a dental professional. 

Intruded Tooth

If the tooth looks like it is now shorter than usual, it has likely been pushed into the bone and become intruded. An intruded tooth is a painful experience and requires an immediate visit to an emergency dentist. Do not attempt to pull the tooth out or reposition the tooth. 

While these are the most common dental emergencies children in sports are likely to face, these are not all possibilities. Make sure you get to your dentist immediately after an injury. 

If your child develops a fever, has trouble breathing or swallowing, or their bleeding doesn’t stop after about ten minutes of pressure, it could be a more serious concern, and you should go to the closest emergency room.

Trust your Child’s Oral Health and Safety to Sycamore Orthodontics

Sycamore Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry provides high-quality orthodontic care to patients in all sports and activities. While you’re in for your consultation or check-up, let us know about the sports your child is playing, and we’ll help you pick the mouthguard that will fit your child’s mouth and needs best. 

Dr. B, Dr. Sarah, and our team have the education and experience you need to get the smile of your dreams without giving up the sport you love. Schedule a FREE consultation to get your custom mouth protection for superior oral health!