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Tooth Loss and Sports

by |March 3, 2016

Tooth loss and sports really does go hand in hand, but there are some sports that are more prone to it than others.

A recent story in Sports Illustrated describes how professional hockey players are at risk of tooth loss. According to the post, “Missing teeth have been associated with hard-nosed hockey – for better and for worse – for decades…” It goes on to suggest that for some players tooth loss is a “badge of honor.”

Your San Diego dentist knows that accidents happen, not just in sports. Besides, what adult wants to give up playing a game of football or b-ball on the weekend with friends just to avoid tooth loss and sports?

If you’re an active sports enthusiast, here’s what your La Jolla dentist wants you to know about the impact sports can have on potential tooth loss.

Surprising Statistics about Tooth Loss and Sports

According to a post at, “The face is often the most exposed part of the body in athletic competition and injuries to the soft tissues of the face are frequent.”

In fact, they note that the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) reported that somewhere between 13 percent and 39 percent of dental injuries are sports-related.

Athletes, in particular, are susceptible to dental injuries. Estimates are that athletes have a 10 percent chance of getting an orofacial injury each season they play and a 33 percent to 56 percent chance throughout their entire career.

There is some good news. Statistics have shown that there is a 90 percent success rate in saving a lost tooth when placed back in the socket within 20 minutes after loss. This declines 10 percent each additional five minutes it is out of your mouth.

Protecting against Tooth Loss in Sports

Protecting yourself against tooth loss and sports can sometimes be difficult. We never know when an accident will happen. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits can help to keep your mouth healthy. In addition, if you play sports, you may want to consider:

  • Mouth guards: While wearing a mouth guard may help, the hockey players in our opening story weren’t so sure. “If a player chooses to wear a mouth guard, he may help his chances of not having a concussion. His pearly whites, though, are still at risk from a puck, a stick, the ice or a check into the boards.”
  • Face cages: For some sports, a face cage may be the only piece of equipment that will protect against trauma to your face. However, the SI article points out, “The only way to help players keep their teeth is to force them to attach full-cage masks to their helmets. And that, in the NHL at least, is not going to happen any time soon if ever.”
  • Helmets: While they don’t protect against tooth loss, they will protect your head.


If you like to play sports, talk to your San Diego dentist about what you can do to protect your mouth from tooth loss and sports. If you’ve already lost a tooth or two, you may want to talk to your La Jolla dentist about dental implants.