Brits are losing millions of teeth in sporting injuries as dentist reveals how to protect your gnashers | The Sun

Brits have lost 4.1 million teeth – due to sporting injuries, research has found.

A poll of 2,000 adults found 16 per cent have lost a tooth after falling or suffering an injury – amounting to a total of more than eight million teeth lost.

But nearly half of those suffered the mishap while playing sport.

It also emerged football and boxing were activities most likely to lead to tooth loss, followed by running and rugby.

The stats emerged in a poll by dental care provider Bupa Dental Care.

It also found 43 per cent – or 1.7 million teeth – could have been saved if a mouth guard was worn while playing sport.



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England national rugby team dentist, Anni Seaborne, said: “Getting injured while playing sports is common, particularly if you’re engaging in high-contact sports like rugby, football or hockey.

“However, there are ways to protect against mouth injuries and I would recommend anyone taking part in contact sports to wear protection.

“I’ve seen far too many of these injuries and I know the pain and long-term damage that can be caused – it’s just not worth the risk.

“Players that don’t wear a mouthguard are at an increased risk of damaging their teeth during games.” 

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The study found that despite the staggering number of incidents, one in 10 adults never wear a mouth guard when participating in sports.

And while 20 per cent do for the likes of rugby or boxing, they wouldn’t consider wearing one for non-contact sports like football.

Of those who are parents, just 19 per cent said their children always wear a mouth guard.

It also emerged many are risking tooth damage with high use of sugary snacks and drinks, with one in 20 adults having at least one every day.

Worryingly, this is also the case for three per cent of children.

Bupa Dental Care’s, Anni Seaborne, added: “The sugars in sports drinks, bars and energy gels increases the risk of tooth decay, so it’s always worth keeping track of your intake and monitoring for any signs of potential decay.”

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Whether it’s a contact sport like rugby, football or hockey, or non-contact sport such as mountain biking or gymnastics – do wear protective mouth wear whenever there is a risk of injury. Boxing is the only professional sport for which mouthguards are mandated.

If you do lose a tooth, gently rinse the tooth clean if dirty and put it back into position and bite on a bit of cloth to hold the tooth in place. If that doesn’t work put the tooth in a glass of milk. At the same time, contact your dentist for an emergency dental care. Time is the most important factor when it comes to saving a tooth – so don’t delay.


High sugar drinks can cause tooth decay. If you’re having them often, there’s a real risk that it will lead to cavities in your teeth. Plus, when you exercise, your salivary flow will drop due to dehydration meaning that these sugars will sit on your teeth, which in turn will increase the decay rate. Instead of energy drinks, bars or gels with high sugar, try complex carbs before a workout so you’ll get a slow release of energy and reduce the risk of damaging your teeth.


During a busy training schedule, it can be harder for athletes to manage all their commitments. But looking after your oral health shouldn’t be underestimated. We know that poor oral health can have a negative impact on training and performance so it’s vital that you’re having regular check-ups allowing your dentist to see if you have any dental problems. Leaving problems untreated could make them more difficult to treat in the future, so it’s best to deal with problems early.


A dry mouth is not unusual for athletes, whatever the sport. When your body is dehydrated from sweating, it causes a decrease in saliva production. Our main defences against bad bacteria are present in our saliva, therefore a lower saliva rate results in an increase in dental decay. The best way to combat a dry mouth is staying hydrated so it’s important to drink water before and after workouts.


Eating frequent meals is not great for your teeth. Tooth decay is largely caused by the frequency of snacks or meals you have during the day and not the amount of food eaten. It is better for your teeth and general health if you eat three meals a day instead of having seven to 10 snacks. If you do need to snack between meals, choose foods that contain less sugar. 

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