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In our lifetime we will have a total of 52 teeth. Twenty of these are what we call primary or “baby” teeth, which appear around the ages of 6 months to 1 year, and will be fully developed by age 3. We have these teeth until the ages of 6-7, when primary teeth begin to fall out and permanent teeth come in. By the time we have reached our early 20’s, the full set of 32 teeth should be well established.
It is estimated that over 3 million teeth are knocked out (avulsed) every year. As you can see from this statistic, the likelihood that your son or daughter will experience an injury to this area is quite high. Sports that have the highest incidences of tooth avulsion are basketball and baseball, mostly due to the poor facial protection of these sports. Other sports with high rates include hockey, rugby, and soccer, and seem to effect kids around the ages of 8-12 the most.
Again, we only get one set of permanent teeth. Taking the proper steps to ensure we do not lose these after avulsion occurs is crucial!
Unfortunately, this type of injury is very hard to prevent in any sport. The most important factor in limiting the incidence of this is proper facial protection and use of an approved mouth guard. It is highly advised, especially in sports that do not have facial protection (basketball, rugby, baseball, softball, wrestling, soccer), to use mouth guards at all times. Additionally, proper dental screenings can help identify at risk individuals for avulsions who may have poor dental habits, gum disease, orthodontics or loose teeth.
Taking these steps, along with the ones mentioned above, can greatly increase the chances you have a nice smile your whole life, even if you sustain a tooth avulsion at some point.
Written by: Matt Brewer, MS ATC/R, Certified Athletic Trainer, Sports Medicine for Young Athletes, Orthopedics Institute, Children’s Hospital Colorado. To find out more about tooth loss prevention, read our sports safety articles, or schedule an appointment at 720-777-6600. We are happy to consult with parents or referring providers before a patient is seen at Children’s Colorado.