Dr. Jackie Lanigan, D.M.D. on mouth guards

Mouthguards prevent dental sports injuries.

Dr. Jackie Lanigan

Several years ago, I was teaching my younger brother and a few friends how to play tennis. As they competed to see who could jump higher over the net, one of the boys tripped and fell on his face. He immediately put his hand to his mouth. Then he held up his front tooth, along with a trail of blood. He looked up at me wide-eyed and panicked.

“What do I do?” he asked me.

“Put it back!” I yelled, rushing over. I helped him push the tooth back into its socket. Today, the tooth is stable and in good condition.

Make mouthguards part of your child’s sports uniform.

Every year, 3 to 5 million children in the United States suffer dental sports injuries severe enough to require emergency room treatment. Of course, high impact sports such as football and hockey account for some of these injuries. However, many are from less assuming sports, like soccer or basketball.

The importance of mouthguards cannot be stressed enough. In 2007, the University of Southern California reviewed all the dental injuries reported to the athletic department from 1996-2005. They found that basketball, not football, was the sport with the highest dental injury rate. In fact, it was five times higher than that of football.

Why was this? The answer was simple: The school had a mandatory mouthguard policy for football players, but not basketball players.

Mouthguards protect more than just teeth.

Remember, prevention is the best medicine. Mouthguards, especially custom mouthguards, should be worn even if it is a noncontact sport such as baseball.

Not only do mouthguards help prevent injuries to the mouth, they can also help prevent concussions. A blow to the jaw can cause a concussion just like a blow to the head.

Most teachers, coaches and parents receive minimal, if any, training in dental emergency management. So, the question is, if you or someone you know has a dental emergency, what do you do?

For the most part, the answer will be to contact a medical professional depending on the nature of the injury and let them take it from there. However, if the patient experiences an avulsion, in which a tooth comes completely out of the socket, your ability to know what to do can be critical.

What to do for a knocked out tooth:

Help save a tooth that’s been knocked out by following the steps below. Feel free to print this tip sheet and give a copy to your child’s coach and teacher.

    1. Assess the tooth! Is it a baby tooth or an adult tooth? Is it intact?
        • If it is a baby tooth, do nothing. If it is an intact adult tooth, continue to step 2.
    2. If the tooth comes out clean (ie. falls out on the tongue or the hand), put it right back in the socket. Have the person bite on gauze or a towel and take him to the dentist.
    3. If the tooth falls on a dirty soccer field or cannot be placed back into the socket, place the tooth in a wet solution and get the patient to the dentist fast!
        a. Use Hanks Salt Solution or milk to store the tooth, or have the patient hold the tooth in their mouth on the side of a cheek.
        b. DO NOT attempt to scrub or clean the tooth.
        c. DO NOT place the tooth in water.


Stay safe! If you need us, Konikoff Dentistry is on call and available for you and your loved ones weeknights and weekends.


Dr. Jackie Lanigan sees patients at the Shore Drive office of Konikoff Dentistry. Request an appointment online or call (757) 333-6866.