If you are the parent of a young athlete, your hands are probably already full. However, there is one more important thing you need to add to your to-do list — maintaining your child's oral health. Children who participate in youth sports face several oral health concerns that can come along with serious health risks. Learn about these risks so that you can protect your child.
Whether it's soccer, basketball, football, or another sport, anytime there is a high-powered object coming towards your child's face, there is a risk for tooth loss. Make sure your child always has protective mouth guards on during practice and game time. However, in the unfortunate scenario your child does lose a tooth, make sure you take him or her to the dentist as soon as possible to minimize the extent of the damage. The sooner a dentist can get to the tooth, the better.
Be careful about giving your child sports drinks. Sports drinks are sometimes loaded with sugar. Too much sugar consumption is one surefire way to expose your child to a cavity and further decay. While many of these drinks advertise health benefits, such as providing your child with electrolytes, one of the best ways to keep your little athlete hydrated is to offer plain water. It's healthier and sugar-free.
Dry mouth is another problem a child athlete can experience. Dry mouth often occurs when a person is breathing from their mouth, which is common when you're engaging in intense physical activity. Saliva production is important because it helps neutralize bacteria that can lead to decay; dry mouth means there is a lack of saliva. Ensure your child regularly drinks water when they're engaging in physical activity to prevent dry mouth.
Another symptom of intense physical activity is teeth grinding. Grinding your teeth causes tiny holes to form along the tooth's surface. These holes allow bacteria to travel deep within the tooth and might even cause nerve damage later on down the line. Grinding your teeth can also change the appearance of your teeth over time. Fortunately, the same mouth guard that your child wears to protect their teeth can also help minimize the grinding, so make sure your child always has it own.
If you have concerns about your child's oral health needs, make sure you address them with a children's dentistry professional.