As a parent or caregiver of kids, sports safety and orthodontic emergencies can be a scary thought. Even situations that turn out to be no big deal to your kid’s well-being can be costly to your bank account. Still, kid’s can be stubborn and will be, well, kids. Taking big risks and sometimes big hits means eventually, you might need to turn to emergency care to ensure their growing smile continues to shine.
Here at Stacy Wolf Orthodontics, we understand your fear for your child’s oral health and safety, especially when they start getting active in sports. To help with some of that anxiety, it’s good to know some of the basics about common orthodontic emergencies, what you should do if you encounter one, and some ways to help prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Orthodontic emergencies are rare, but since they do happen from time to time, Dr. Wolf and her experienced team in Bayside, NY, are here to help. Remember to stay calm and carefully examine the damage to be explained to the dental professional. Next, contact Dr. Wolf for specific instructions on mitigating your injury until you can be seen in her office. In the meantime, check out these tips or schedule an appointment for an examination and a custom-made mouthguard to keep your kid safe during sports!
True orthodontic emergencies are pretty rare. Your teeth, gums, and jaws all work together to create a strong structure that can withstand some pretty intense trauma without damage. Once you introduce orthodontic appliances like the brackets and wires of traditional and clear braces or even clear aligners like Invisalign, the emergency rate increases slightly. While modern braces are stronger than they have ever been, they are designed to move your teeth which means they may break under the right pressure.
Most situations you will experience with braces are not true orthodontic emergencies requiring you to be seen immediately. If you are experiencing discomfort, it is often associated with a recent adjustment and will subside in a day or so. In the meantime, eating softer foods and rinsing with warm salt water can provide some noticeable relief. You should also check to be sure no food or debris is stuck between your teeth; flossing or rinsing with mouthwash can alleviate this pain. If you notice your discomfort is from a loose or protruding wire, you can usually use sterile tweezers, a Qtip, or a rubber pencil eraser to reposition the wire. In some cases, patients aren’t able to get the end of the wire back into its original place and find using a small amount of non-medicinal relief wax prevents further irritation until you can see Dr. Wolf and have it appropriately corrected.
Some situations that can come up may need Dr. Wolf’s professional attention but do not warrant an after-hours call or office visit. If your ligatures or wire becomes displaced and you can not get it repositioned appropriately, schedule an appointment for repair, but take extra caution with that part of your mouth not to cause any further damage. If your bracket is hit with enough force or at the right angle, it can shift or break off from the tooth. This separation means it is no longer doing its job to straighten your teeth and could cause irritation and debris build-up. If the loose bracket has rotated on the wire and is sticking out, schedule an appointment immediately. Do a temporary fix to alleviate any discomfort and prevent further damage, but take care to avoid swallowing or another injury.
A quick assessment and early treatment is our primary goal when we evaluate and treat true orthodontic emergencies. The most common injuries we see are tooth fractures, commonly referred to as a “chipped tooth,” and soft tissue lacerations or cuts on your gums, tongue, or cheeks from your orthodontic appliances. These typically occur as a result of direct impact to the area. While inspecting for these types of injuries, we also check the motion of your jaw to address any dislocation that needs attention.
Sports Safety for Kids’ Mouths
Sometimes, getting your kid to wear clean socks and eat their veggies can feel like pulling teeth. Getting them to wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth and gums during sports seems almost not worth the fight. We get it; still, wearing a mouthguard is one of the most inexpensive ways to protect your child’s teeth, tongue, gums, and cheeks from trauma during extra-curricular activities.
Whether your kid is playing recreationally by themselves, like when skateboarding, or they are a part of an organized competitive lacrosse team, orofacial and dental injuries are a risk for participants of all ages, genders, and skill levels. While most dental injuries are sustained during collision and contact sports, they are also prevalent in limited-contact, no-contact, and high-velocity sports. Currently, the American Dental Association recommends using a properly fitting mouthguard for contact and collision sports like those implementing a ball and combat sports. They also recommend mouthguards during many limited contact sports where falling could occur, like gymnastics and weight lifting.
As with any other decision you face to keep your kids safe, 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
If you are currently undergoing orthodontic treatment, 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 will know you have a good fit if it is comfortable, offers adequate coverage, and doesn’t interfere with speaking or breathing. The three most common mouthguards are stock or pre-made, “Boil and Bite,” and custom-made.
Stacy Wolf Orthodontics keeps your kids’ safety and smiles straight!
Don’t give up those sports to stay safe during your orthodontic treatment. Our braces patients can still play sports like normal during treatment; you will just need to protect your teeth and mouth adequately. From your first visit to the end of your smile design journey, the road to a win is paved with cooperation and teamwork. Let us know what sports your kid is playing while they are in for their next appointment so we can ensure they have all the proper protection they need!
If you have been putting off orthodontic treatment to not give up your extracurricular fun and exercise, schedule your FREE consultation with our skilled Stacy Wolf Orthodontics team in Bayside, NY, today and see how you can get the best of both worlds! And be sure to check out our Facebook and Instagram pages to see our recent smile transformations!