Be Smart About Jaw Injuries in Sports


If your child participates in sports, or you’re an athlete yourself, you probably take all the proper precautions for safety. Most sports have rules and regulations about equipment such as helmets and pads, and many athletes today wear a bite guard to protect their teeth.

But even with all the right equipment and skill, athletes can suffer jaw injuries during sports. In fact, it is surprisingly common: one study showed that nearly half of elite field hockey players will suffer mouth, tooth, or jaw injuries.

The reality is, any time you play a sport, you need to be mindful of your mouth and jaw and do what you can to prevent injuries. Volleyball, soccer, basketball, football, martial arts, and many other activities can put your jaw at risk. What should you do if your or your child’s mouth or jaw has been hurt during sports?

Sports and Jaw or Facial Injuries

Serious jaw injuries, including a broken jaw or dislocation, require emergency medical care. If a tooth is broken or lost, you should also call your dentist as soon as possible.

In some cases, your muscles or ligaments in your face may also be torn or injured from getting hit in the face – even if the bones aren’t broken. These injuries often go undetected because the problem isn’t seen on a common x-ray, and athletes want to get back to their game and just “tough it out.” But months or even years after a facial injury has healed, some people find that they have ongoing pain, stiffness, problems with chewing or talking, headaches, earaches, and more.

Care for Your Jaw

If you or your child has ever suffered an injury to the jaw or face, think about how it feels now. If you are having ongoing symptoms of a jaw problem, it’s possible that your temporomandibular joints (TMJs) were affected by the injury and need proper treatment to get back to normal function. Eating a TMJ-friendly diet, avoiding chewing gum, and reducing stress are also important steps to take to make sure your jaw is healthy.

Prevention of Jaw Injuries

It’s true that prevention is the best medicine when it comes to sports injuries, but not all injuries can be avoided. Make sure you’re using a properly fitted helmet and/or a mouth guard for your teeth with any contact sport. The equipment you use may help you avoid an injury – and potential TMJ problems down the road. But if an injury happens to you or your child, be sure to watch for signs of a TMJ problem.

Treating TMJ Pain and Injuries

The first step to getting relief from ongoing jaw or orofacial pain is to talk with our staff at MedCenter TMJ. At our Houston practice, Dr. Ronald C. AuvenshineDr. Nathan Pettit, and our team will evaluate your symptoms and focus on getting you back to a healthy, active life. Contact our office for an appointment today!

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