Summer is the time for many fun outdoor activities, for children and adults alike.
With all the renewed opportunities for swimming, biking, and outdoor team sports, though, comes added risk. The outdoor activities vacationing families enjoy are accompanied by some dental risks, as well.
“Injuries are not the only cause of summer dental emergencies. Patients who do not receive regular dental care throughout the year are also at risk for needing emergency dental care, as other serious oral concerns may arise on holiday weekends—when the patients’ regular dental office is closed or the patient is traveling. All of these factors drive significant emergency dental traffic on major summer holidays.
[Software company and research group] Sikka compared the average number of holiday patient emergency visits at a dental office to the average number of emergency visits a day in the same month. The number of reported injuries was averaged over the weekend when the holiday took place, since celebrations usually occur on more than one day. Results indicate that the four major holidays—Memorial Day, summer solstice, July 4, and Labor Day—all saw an increase in emergency dental visits over the monthly average number of emergency visits for a work day. Three out of four of these busy summer holidays are long weekends, which means more travel and greater exposure to potentially risky activities.”
Whether you’re away from your regular dentist’s office, or whether you and your family are participating in more outdoor activities, you should exercise a little bit of caution.
We see more chipped and broken teeth as the summer starts. Accidents can happen to anyone, but we find most of these injuries are preventable.
Here’s what to look out for and how to protect yourself.
When it comes to summer activities, not everything presents equal danger for dental injuries.
Going on a nice long walk, for example, is much safer than riding a skateboard. If you or your children regularly ride skateboards, however, you probably already know the inherent risks.
Some of the activities we enjoy most in life aren’t risk-free, but we have to do our best to make them as safe as possible. Especially for our children.
These are the summer activities we commonly see associated with dental injuries:
- Swimming – Adults and children alike can chip or break a tooth if they hit the hard edge of the pool. There’s also the risk of taking an elbow, a knee, or even a forehead from another swimmer. Children are also prone to running around the pool, even when it’s against the rules– and that’s an easy way to fall and damage a tooth.
- Team Sports – Baseball, softball, tee-ball, and basketball are all a great way to build teamwork and leadership skills. They’re also a great way to make friends. But you can easily get hit with a bat or a ball, or fall when you try to guard another player or slide into base. Children are particularly vulnerable to injury if proper precautions aren’t taken.
- Trampolines – Some organizations say children should never jump on trampolines. The choice is yours, of course, but we recommend you supervise jumping children at all times.
- Biking – This one is fairly self-explanatory. Bicycles are fun, an efficient method of transport, and a great way to exercise. But they also present some serious dental risks.
- Skateboarding – Skateboarding is riskier than biking, but try telling an avid skateboarder that they can never skate again due to safety concerns. When it comes to skateboards, you have to be safe and smart.
Summer wouldn’t be any fun if we always hid indoors and shied away from any and all outdoor activity.
We just have to be smart about it.
As adults, it’s our job to set good safety examples for children, so that they’ll be eager to follow along. It’s also important to develop good safety habits in children from an early age.
When biking and skateboarding, always wear a helmet. Learn how to fall properly, and how to protect your face and head.
Whenever possible, encourage children to wear mouthguards while playing organized sports. Custom mouthguards are best, but store-bought mouthguards can work in a pinch.
Helmets are appropriate for many organized sports. Helmets with face guards are better still.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times, and encourage your children to do the same. Accidents will still happen, but if they’re mindful of the people and objects around them, they’re much less likely to get hurt.
When it comes to trampolines, make sure the trampoline isn’t overcrowded. Encourage children to stay away from “tricks” like flips and somersaults. If you’re uneasy about trampolines but your child is still eager to bounce, try a safer environment like Rebounderz Indoor Trampoline Arena.
Summer is a time for fun and sun. By taking a little extra care during your summer activities, you can prevent injuries and emergency dentist visits. If an accident does happen, see a dentist immediately.
~Dr. Marea White