I am an avid hockey player, and I had a facial hit during practice last month so I am doing some research on tooth implants. Although I didn’t lose any teeth, the ligaments loosened in one of them. My dentist stabilized the tooth. She said that if I have another impact on my face, there is a chance I might lose that tooth. She also said that my dental insurance probably won’t pay for an implant. As a teenager, I wore braces and my teeth are straight and I’ve even had them whitened. I still wear a retainer every night. I’ve never had an impact that loosened a tooth, so I’m concerned how much this might cost me if I really do need a dental implant. Other than a mouth guard, is there something I can do to protect my tooth? – Chanz
As you likely know, losing teeth is common for hockey players. Many players who have lost a tooth have obtained a removable form of cosmetic tooth replacement. They take the appliance out before games. Some only use it for special occasions.
Contact your insurance company and ask if limited benefits are offered for dental implants. Generally, insurance will provide benefits for the least expensive form of tooth replacement. Dental implants are the most effective and most expensive form of tooth replacement.
- Partial denture – A partial denture has one or more teeth attached to a gum-colored base. It clasps onto adjacent teeth. It is the least expensive form of tooth replacement.
- Dental bridge – A dental bridge requires shaving down the natural tooth on either side of the missing one. The replacement tooth is suspended in the middle of the bridge, and a dental crown is connected to the right and left of it. The crowns on the ends are placed over the shaved down natural teeth.
- Dental implant – An artificial root form, usually made of titanium, is surgically implanted in the jawbone. After a healing period of three to four months, a dental crown is attached to the implant. If you play contact sports and experience an impact to your face, the dental implant can loosen and fail. This is the most expensive form of tooth replacement. And What Can You Do?
Do what you can to avoid needing a dental implant. Consider the follow precautions.
- Customized mouth guard – Wearing a customized mouth guard can help. It’s important that you receive a mouth guard from your dentist. Impressions of your teeth will be taken to make it. But a mouth guard has limited benefits if a hockey puck or stick makes an impact with your mouth.
- Full-cage mask – With a highly-interactive sport like hockey, only a full-cage mask attached to the helmet will prevent objects from impacting your face. This is not a popular option among players, but it provides maximum protection for your face and teeth and can help save a tooth and avoid the need for a dental implant.
- Keep the tooth moist – If you lose a tooth, keep it moist with saliva or milk. Of course, if you’re in the middle of a game, milk probably won’t be within reach, so use your own saliva and see a dentist right away.
This post is sponsored by Michael Szarek, DMD, a Lowell, MA accredited cosmetic dentist.