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3 sports that can be tough on teeth

The importance of regular physical exercise is a given. Much like the guidance to brush and floss two times a day, no one questions just how uniquely vital fitness is to the body and mind. Exercise is especially important for children. According to the Ministry of Health, nearly 13% of children in New Zealand are considered obese. While that’s considerably lower than the childhood obesity rates in other countries, children who are physically active are much less likely to be overweight, thereby avoiding the adverse health effects that can compromise their quality of life.

Youth sports — be it through school or intramural programs — help to keep children at the top of their game. Whether it’s on the basketball court, soccer field, baseball diamond or golf course — organised sports make staying active fun.

At the same time, though, while the running, tossing and jostling of sports does wonders for their cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, certain kinds can be problematic for your kids’ teeth— particularly those events that are high contact.

In no particular order, here are the sports that can be harmful to your kids’ teeth. You may be surprised by some of the ones listed:

1. Baseball and softball
While baseball doesn’t have the same national following in New Zealand as rugby, lots of kids and teenagers are involved in baseball, whether through pick-up games on their own or in after-school programs in towns and communities.

Given there’s a lot of throwing and running involved — both in the field and on the base paths — the typical injuries associated with baseball often include sprains, strains and fractures. But baseballs and softballs, despite their name, are extremely hard, and an errant throw can do severe damage to the jaw — especially if helmets are worn improperly or don’t have a flap that extends beyond the mouth. Additionally, collisions can happen both in the infield and outfield that can cause teeth to chip, crack or be knocked out entirely.

Having your son or daughter wear a mouth guard whenever they are on the field can help protect your kids’ teeth. According to Baseball New Zealand, there are no mouth guard requirements for youth leagues, so you may need to supply your child with one to reduce their susceptibility to tooth damage.

Wearing a mouth guard regardless of the sport keeps your kids' teeth better protected. Wearing a mouth guard regardless of the sport keeps your kids’ teeth better protected.

2. Basketball
Basketball is another sport that on the surface, doesn’t seem like a sport that is especially rough or aggressive. But as anyone who has played basketball can attest, it’s definitely a contact sport, whether it’s boxing out to grab a rebound or driving to the hoop to shoot a layup. At any time, an elbow to the chin or a fall to the ground can be so impactful as to chip, break or otherwise damage a healthy tooth.

If your kids don’t wear a mouth guard and play basketball, you should change that immediately. Mouth guards cushion the blow that your child may encounter if they’re playing offense or defense.

3. Rugby
What American football is to the United States, rugby is to New Zealand: it’s the national pastime. In fact, were it not for rugby, American football would likely never exist, since rugby has been played for thousands of years and the rules are very similar.

It probably comes as no surprise that rugby is most definitely a high contact sport, but what you may be surprised by is many professional players confess to not wearing one since it isn’t compulsory. There was a story about this in RugbyPass in 2020.

As a parent, you have the ultimate authority in what sports your child participates. But regardless of what they play, wearing a mouth guard should be part of their game plan. At City Dentists, we can customise a mouth guard for your child so it fits snugly and not only protects their teeth but will be comfortable too, encouraging them to keep using it. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

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