Worst Sports for Teeth (and How to Protect Yourself and Kids)

While both organized sports and recreational “pick-up games” are part of a healthy life, some sports pose more of a threat of injury than others, and protecting yourself and your kids while participating in them is extremely important. Protecting your teeth is especially important because dental injuries are the most common facial injury that occurs during sports. Here’s a glance at the most dangerous sports for teeth.

Basketball

While it’s not officially a full-contact sport, there’s plenty of contact between players reaching for a block or a rebound, increasing the likelihood of someone catching an elbow to the mouth. Because of this, basketball has the highest dental injury rate among both male and female players. The chance of a serious orofacial injury that requires attention from a dentist increases sevenfold when the player is not wearing a mouthguard.

Football

Since it is a full-contact sport, players are given plenty of equipment in order to protect their bodies. Mouthguards have been mandatory at the high school and collegiate level since 1962, which has greatly reduced dental injuries in organized leagues. Outside of those organizations, where proper protective gear isn’t mandated, injuries to the mouth sharply increase.

While almost any sport can present the danger of orofacial injuries, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the use of a mouthguard for all youth participating in organized sports. The American Dental Association also recommends mouthguards for any sport where the participant could potentially sustain a blow to the mouth.
The most effective and comfortable type of mouthguard is available through your dentist. They are custom-designed to fit the wearer and are made in the dental office or a professional laboratory. Especially with younger participants, a good fit is crucial to ensure your child can still talk and breathe during play.