You wake up and check the snow report: fresh powder, 25 degrees and all trails are open at Snowbowl. Perfect! You call your friends, gather your gear and pack up for a day on the slopes. You have your skis, poles, jacket and helmet, but you’re missing one very important item—your mouthguard.
You arrive at Snowbowl and eagerly head up the first lift to get your bearings on your favorite blue run. As you start to ski down the mountain, you see another skier barreling straight toward you, out of control. And boom! You collide and fall back. As you get up, you feel pain in your upper jaw. The collision has knocked out one of your front teeth. Suddenly your perfect day on the slopes has ended up with a ski patrol rescue, a trip to the ER and some restorative dental work.
Why Should You Wear a Mouthguard While Skiing?
If you’re involved in a sport that may cause facial injury, dentists recommend wearing a mouthguard. Skiing and snowboarding injuries often involve head, neck or facial trauma. According to one study on traumatic dental injuries while skiing, the most common causes of injury are:
- Falls (42%)
- Collisions with other people (24%)
- Being hit by one’s own sports equipment (11%)
- Running into obstacles (9%)
- Lift accidents (6%)
A similar study reviewed the likelihood of dental trauma on ski slopes. It found that 33% of skiers had at least one skiing or snowboarding accident. Most of the skiers and snowboarders (67%) wore protective gear, including a helmet and back and wrist protectors. Dental injuries occurred in about 2% of all injured skiers, with only 18% of those skiers wearing a mouthguard.
Wearing a mouthguard can protect more than just your teeth. It can:
- Prevent you from biting your tongue or cheek
- Act as a cushion to avoid chipping or breaking teeth
- Guard against dislodging a tooth
- Absorb force and protect your jaw
If you or your kids wear braces, you have one more reason to wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards can protect against damage to your brackets or orthodontic appliances. They also cushion your mouth and help avoid cutting your cheeks, lips or tongue.
What Do You Do if You Knock Out a Tooth on the Slopes?
If you have an accident while on the slopes and knock out a tooth, here are a few steps you can take:
- Make sure you have the number for ski patrol. If you fall in a low-traffic area, you may need to call for help.
- Pick the tooth up by the crown. Try not to touch the root.
- If the tooth is dirty or has snow on it, rinse it with milk. If you can’t find milk, use water.
- Don’t wipe the tooth with clothing or a towel. Doing so can damage the tooth.
- Keep the tooth in a glass of milk. Don’t have milk? Place the tooth in your mouth (between your cheek and gum). If you have a young child who may swallow the tooth, ask them to spit it into a cup with their saliva.
- You can try to slip the tooth back into its socket, but don’t force it.
- Make an appointment to see a local dentist as soon as you can and bring the tooth with you.
Thankfully, most Delta Dental plans cover dental emergencies anywhere in the U.S. While you can visit any licensed dentist in an emergency, you will save the most money if you see a dentist who is in-network. More than 156,000 licensed dentists in the U.S. are part of Delta Dental’s network, so it’s likely you’ll be able to find one nearby!*
Next time you hit the slopes, don’t forget to pack your mouthguard. It can save you from unexpectedly losing a tooth or having a dental emergency.
Kick up some powder, stay safe and have a gnarly run!
*National network data from Delta Dental National Provider File (August 2019).