It happened in the third inning. Simple grounder or so it should have been. He was standing at the pitchers mound ready to retrieve the ball but it bounced and hit him in the mouth. He dropped to the ground and was digging through the the dirt as the ball was next to him in easy reach. He looked up and blood was running down his chin as he cried he could’t find his tooth.
Fortunately it was a very lose baby tooth (that I tried in earnest to remove) so there was no real trauma. And yes the tooth was found and the tooth fairy came. It was a happy ending but I have seen several other adolescents not so lucky. Teeth knocked out completely or broken halfway off is the common scenario. I have also seen many adults post their playing years with great stories of injuries to their mouth.
Often times the consequences of the trauma may not show up for years. What is seen is discoloration of the teeth ( i.e.front tooth goes dark even black in some instances) or even worse root resorption where the body eats away the root and eventually the tooth is lost. Both of these processes occur without the individual experiencing any discomfort.
This is where athletic mouth guards come into play. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Mouth guards can be bought in athletic stores (boil and bite) or they can be custom fitted by your dentist. The custom fitted one will fit better providing more protection and comfort. When it is more comfortable it will be more likely to be worn. As parents and coaches we need to insist on kids wearing mouth guards. And yes. It will need to be replaced frequently just like the rest of their equipment as they are growing. We have no problems, buying helmets, shin guards, cups but why do
we hesitate when it comes to protecting the mouth/teeth?
And yes in case you are wondering, next season we will be trying a mouth guard.
Remember your smile will last a lifetime and be shown off more than any trophy earned.
Play hard and wisely.