Playing Sports – Dental Implants And The Alternatives

Dentist Dr Hiten Pabari, offers advice on tooth replacement options for those who play sports.

Despite the rise in popularity of games and apps on our phones, many people still take part in sporting activities on a regular basis. By and large, this is good for our health and even if we are not particularly good at our chosen sport, it does give us some exercise and often acts as a social function as well.

From playing football in our younger years, to more leisurely pursuits such as golf or bowls as we get older, participation in sport still seems to be rising.

Dental threats

Each sport not only has its individual skills that are needed, along with different levels of fitness, but also pose different levels of risk. Some, such as fast car racing are obvious, but even less potentially dangerous sports can cause injuries such as broken bones, and, from our perspective, broken and knocked out teeth.

Even though there are different levels of risks, ultimately, it is the participant’s decision whether to protect their teeth or not. Some sports, such as boxing, make it pretty much essential that a mouth guard is worn. Others, such as cricket, have a relatively low risk of damage to the teeth, although it can happen. Football, perhaps the most widely played sport, comes somewhere in between. Whilst most of us may play for many years with no damage to the mouth area, there is always a risk of a ball or a stray elbow coming into contact with our teeth, causing serious damage.

Our Chelmsford dental team are always pleased to offer advice on mouth guards to anyone wishing to have more information about protecting their teeth during sporting activities.

When it come to replacing missing teeth….

Inevitably, a number of people who choose not to have a mouth guard may well lose a tooth or two if they play sport where there is risk of collision. Whilst tooth loss can pose a dilemma for anyone, those playing regular sports may need to make a specific decision about the best way to replace the missing tooth, given this regular activity.

At Blue Sky Dental, we generally suggest dental implants as the best possible option for replacing missing teeth, and we firmly believe that this is the case for most people. There are considerations that need to be made though if you regularly play sports, and especially contact sports.

Like a natural tooth, damage can be caused to a dental implant if it receives a significant blow. Whilst the crown part of the implant can usually be replaced; if any damage has been done to the titanium implant itself, or the surrounding bone tissue, the implant may completely fail. Even if the patient then wanted it replacing, this may be trickier and may require a bone graft, depending on any damage done to the bone.

Generally speaking, most of the higher risk sports are only played until a certain age, and because of this, and the cost of a dental implant procedure; unless you are prepared to wear a protective mouthguard it may be worth considering a different option. You can then consider a dental implant when you finally retire from your chosen sport.

Dentures 

Although dentures have been around for a very long time, they are sometimes seen as the ‘poor relation’ of teeth replacement methods. They do have their role though, and not only for highly anxious patients who prefer a non-invasive tooth replacement method. They are ideal for those playing contact sports as they can be easily taken out before the game and then replaced afterwards.

This is a low risk way of replacing a lost tooth for those playing sports. There are drawbacks though. When you are not playing, a denture will not offer the same level of strength and stability that a dental implant will. In addition to this, whilst a dental implant also replaces the root of the tooth, a denture will not. This means that, over time, the bone in that part of the jaw will degrade and when you finally retire and decide to have a dental implant placed, some patients may require a prior bone graft in order for the implant procedure to be carried out successfully.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to this dilemma and our friendly Blue Sky dentists are on hand to offer their advice. Ultimately though, it is the patient’s choice as to which solution they opt for, and will depend on their own particular circumstances. If you take part in a sport and would like to discuss either the best way to protect your teeth, or the best replacement options for a lost tooth, we are happy to help. Appointments can be made by calling Blue Sky Dental in Chelmsford on 01245 211070.

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