Some people love horses just for being majestic beasts. Others enjoy the fun and freedom of a casual ride. But some really love the challenge and excitement of competition with show jumping. And, really, this is one of the great ways to enjoy the unique pleasures that riding offers: the speed of the horse heading up to the jump, the power of the animal as it thrusts up and over an obstacle, the control as the horse turns tightly to head for the next jump, and the special bond that develops between horse and rider during training and competition.
Unfortunately, even the closest bond between horse and rider isn’t enough to stop all falls, and when falls occur there may also be injuries. And these injuries can often include serious dental trauma that requires reconstructive dentistry.
How Common Are Show Jumping Dental Injuries?
There are many factors that increase a rider’s risk for dental injury during training or show jumping competition. Horses can go very fast, and the position atop the horse is relatively high off the ground. And even trained horses can be unpredictable sometimes, especially when the pressure of competition is on.
When riders fall from a horse, they often sustain trauma to the head and neck, which can lead to tooth injuries.
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much research into the rate of tooth injury in show jumping. We have only one study that looks at this particular risk. It is based on surveys of 608 competitors from three European countries. Of these competitors, 15% had experienced an accident that caused trauma to their teeth, and about 30% said they had witnessed an accident that resulted in tooth trauma.
Preventing Tooth Trauma
The good news is that we can significantly reduce the risk of tooth trauma in show jumping in the same way as any other sport. The bad news is that few people take the proper steps. In this study, only three riders–just 0.5%–owned a mouthguard. Mostly, they didn’t own mouthguards because their peers didn’t. It isn’t part of the riding culture. Some people also thought that a mouthguard wouldn’t be helpful.
However, the truth is that a mouthguard is effective at preventing tooth injuries in any type of sporting event. This includes protection from dental trauma in show jumping. Helmets can protect against head injury, but equestrian helmets aren’t designed to protect against dental trauma.
The best mouthguards are those provided by a dentist. These provide the best function, are the most comfortable, and offer the best protection against dental trauma.
Repairing Tooth Injuries
It’s important to respond properly if you suffered dental trauma during a show jumping accident.
If you suffered tooth injuries during a show jumping accident, we can help. Most any type of tooth injury can be repaired.
Minor chipped teeth are typically repaired with dental bonding or porcelain veneers. Veneers give more attractive and longer-lasting results. If the trauma structurally damaged the tooth, then we will recommend a dental crown. If the interior of the tooth has been damaged, a root canal treatment might be necessary to protect against infection.
Even if you knock out a tooth, it may be able to be saved. If your tooth is knocked out, pick it up only by the crown–the normally visible part. You can gently wash it with water if it’s dirty, but don’t touch the root with your hand. Store the tooth in water, room temperature milk, or even saliva. If possible, you can place it back in the socket, and you can also carry the tooth carefully in your mouth between your cheek and gums–don’t swallow it!
If you can’t find the tooth or if the tooth can’t be saved, we can replace it with a dental implant.
If you or someone you know suffered tooth trauma during show jumping or another sport in Wilmington, NC, please call (910) 392-6060 today for an appointment with restorative dentist Dr. Michael Kuzma at Kuzma Advanced Dentistry.