Dental injuries are a common occurrence in sports. Most helmets, while offering protection to the head, do not offer any kind of protection for the mouth. This is especially true for pitchers who often have baseballs coming back at them at 110 mph in the major leagues. One Cleveland Indians minor league pitcher, J.P. Feyereisen, recently reflected on one incident that would have left most players shaken to their core.
While Feyereisen was still playing high school baseball, a fastball came back and caught him in the mouth. If it had not knicked his glove, he would have suffered severe jaw damage. The ball still managed to knock out four of his bottom teeth. Luckily, thanks to the quick thinking of his parents, they were able to find his teeth, still attached to the wire from his retainer, and his dentist was able to reattach his lost teeth.
Teeth Injuries in Sports
As I previously mentioned, playing sports can be extremely hard on your teeth. This is especially true of sports that use minimal protection gear, such as rugby. It is estimated that 5 million teeth are avulsed (pulled or torn away) each year. Of those 5 million, the Journal of American Dental Association estimates that 13-39% are sports related. Missing or damaged teeth can lead to an aged appearance, and can cause further damage if not addressed.
Your jaw bone requires stimulation in order to maintain its strength and shape. This stimulation primarily comes from your teeth which are anchored into the alveolar bone in your jaw. If a tooth is extracted and not replaced, this stimulation no longer occurs and your body is tricked into thinking that the bone is no longer needed. This triggers your body’s osteoclasts to begin breaking down and absorbing the bone, leading to bone loss.
Know Your Options
Feyereisen was lucky enough to be able to reattach his missing teeth in time. Unfortunately, most people are not that lucky and missing teeth must be replaced with dental implants. These implants work in much the same way as your natural teeth and are anchored to the jawbone in order to stimulate bone growth. If you are keen on keeping your natural teeth, then you should consider using a mouthguard to protect those pearly whites. Many dentists, Dr. Matthews included, can fit you for a mouthguard that can comfortably protect your teeth. Dr. Matthews can also help you acquire dental implants if you have lost your teeth for any reason, be it sports related or due to conditions such as periodontal disease. If live in the Austin area and have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment at Dan Matthews, DDS please give us a call at (512) 520-0606.