Maxillofacial injuries occur in contact and non-contact sports injuries. Despite the advancements in protective equipment and rule changes, there is still an unacceptably high rate of maxillofacial injuries Every year, about majority of the school going children fall prey to such injuries and these fall into three different types:
A cracked tooth, which has wildly varying levels of severity, happens most often during sports when the player sustains an abrupt blow to the face. The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation (NYSSF) estimates that players who don't wear mouth guards are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth this way during competition, and a tooth injury of this nature can cause various long-term problems.
A cracked tooth, involves a crack or split that begins at the crown of the tooth and extends downward into the toot
Symptoms you might experience with a cracked tooth include:
- A sharp pain when you bite down, which dissipates afterward.
- Tooth pain that comes and goes, but isn't constantly present.
- Pain while eating and drinking, especially when you consume hot or cold foods.
- Losing a section of the tooth's outer enamel shell, which exposes the dentin and pulp and sometimes the root surface.
It's possible you don't experience pain at all, of course, and because a cracked tooth isn't always visible to the naked eye, you may only discover it during your next dental checkup.
If the crack is a vertical fracture near the tooth's centre, it usually won't cause you to lose a section of tooth and expose the tooth pulp. But if the crack extends across the out of the tooth, it could affect the cusp, which is the pointed tips of the tooth, according to the American Association of Endodontics (AAE). In these instances, your dentist may diagnose a cuspal fracture, which could necessitate having the tooth extracted or performing root canal treatment to avoid bacterial infection.
A tooth injury in sports isn't always limited to the crown of the tooth, either. It is possible that a blow at the wrong angle can cause a fractured root, first. This happens when a crack beginning in the root travels in the direction of the tooth's chewing surface. Because fractures are often invisible, you might only discover the problem when an infection develops. The severity of this type of tooth injury depends on the location of the fracture along the root. The sooner a patient with a root fracture receives root canal therapy (also known as endodontic treatment) to prevent infection in the pulp, the less likely they are to experience necrosis that leads to tooth loss.
Sports injuries are typically associated with teeth pushed into the jaw, displaced out of the socket or completely knocked out, but it's possible for a tooth to be driven back into the jaw bone instead. It's more common in primary teeth because a child's alveolar bones, which hold the tooth sockets, are not hardened to the strength of an adult's.
Some of the complications arising from tooth getting knocked out include:
- Destruction of the tooth pulp, either by it "dying" (necrosis) or being damaged beyond recovery during the accident.
- Root resorption, which is a shortening of the roots. This occurs in up to 70 percent of permanent teeth that are injured in this way.
Ankylosis, described as the fusion of the root of the injured tooth to the alveolar bone.
Yes, knocked-out teeth can be repaired, and the sooner you can get to your dentist's office, the better. Knocked-out teeth with the highest chances of being saved are those seen by the dentist and returned to their socket within one hour of being knocked out. If a tooth has been knocked out, gently rinse any debris from the root and attempt to place it back into the socket. If that’s not possible, hold it in the mouth on the way to the dentist. If all else fails, keep the tooth in milk until you get to the dentist's office.
Even if your tooth can't be saved, you haven't necessarily lost your smile. Due to advances in dentistry, a dental implant -- a freestanding artificial tooth - can now be anchored directly onto your jawbone, and with a porcelain crown attached, to aid in biting, chewing, and for esthetic reasons.
A broken jaw (mandibular fracture) is the second most common facial fracture in sports because of the anterior location on the skull. The mandible is the jawbone. Because the mandible is exposed and not covered by most protective devices, it is susceptible to injury.
Symptoms of broken jaw
The mandible usually fractures in more than one place and occurs on opposite sides of the midline of the jaw. These fractures can either be displaced (more severe with bone ends separated and moved apart) or nondisplaced (bone ends aligned).
The signs and symptoms of a displaced broken jaw include:
- Gross deformity
- Malocclusion (teeth do not align when jaw is closed)
- Oral bleeding
- Paresthesia or anesthesia of lower lip and chin
- Changes in speech
- Bruising to the floor of the mouth
- Mucous membrane tears
The signs and symptoms of a nondisplaced broken jaw include:
- Oral bleeding oozing between the teeth
- Point tenderness over the fracture site
- Pain on opening and closing the jaw
A broken jaw is most often caused by a blow to the lower jaw from sports equipment (hockey stick, bat). Because of the length of a hockey stick and/or bat, it does not take as much force from the opponent swinging the equipment to create enough force to fracture the jawbone.
Mountain biking is another sport with a high incidence of facial fractures. This type of injury occurs when the athlete goes over the handlebars and falls directly onto the lower jaw or chin hitting a hard surface.
Fighting sports in which direct blows are delivered as part of the sport (boxing, mixed martial arts) also have a high incidence of jawbone fractures.
Treatment for broken jaw
If a broken jaw is suspected, emergency services should immediately be called. Initial treatment should be focused on maintaining an open airway with the athlete in a sitting position with the athlete’s hands supporting the lower jaw. This position will allow the blood to flow forward and out of the mouth rather than back into the throat.
Because the amount of force required to fracture the mandible is significant, care must be taken to evaluate the athlete for possible concussion and/or brain injury also.
To determine if the athlete has any signs and symptoms of concussion, check for the following:
- Ringing in the ears
• Inability to answer simple questions
Mouth Guards : When playing sports, the best way to protect your teeth and mouth is by wearing a mouth guard, which can be customised according to the patient’s need by our team.
Face cages: This equipment protects against trauma to the face, especially when playing certain sports positions, like baseball catcher or hockey goalie.
Helmets: It's always wise to wear a helmet made for the activity that you are participating in. Although most helmets won't protect the teeth and mouth, they will protect another important area - your head, to help protect against a brain concussion.
Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.