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Toothless Grins Are Only Cute on Babies
Date:9/4/2011

SATURDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Dental injuries are all too common among young athletes, especially those playing basketball and baseball, an expert says.

"Basketball and baseball are the two biggest mouth-injuring sports. And the most common injuries we see are broken, displaced or knocked out teeth, and broken jaws," Dr. Stephen Mitchell, an associate professor in the pediatric dentistry department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a university news release.

It's estimated that more than 3 million teeth will be knocked out in youth sporting events in the United States this year, according to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation.

Mouth guards and helmets with face protectors can help reduce young athletes' risk of dental injuries.

"If the child has a full set of permanent teeth then a custom guard can be made that will provide protection but be small enough to make it easy to communicate with teammates," Mitchell said. "But if they still have some of their baby teeth, a custom guard is a waste of money. Parents will be better off going to the store and buying one of the guards that can be boiled and molded to their child's mouth."

If a child does suffer a broken or cracked tooth, see a dentist within 24 hours. If a child loses a tooth or teeth, immediately go to the emergency department and try to preserve the tooth/teeth.

"A tooth that has been knocked out needs to be back in the mouth within 30 minutes for the best chance of long-term survival," Mitchell said.

If your child is old enough not to swallow the tooth, you can try to gently place the tooth back in its socket. If that's not possible, place the tooth in milk. Don't put it in water and don't handle it by the root, which is easily damaged, Mitchell advised.

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