Head trauma is becoming more and more prevalent these days in sports. Jiu Jitsu is no different. In fact, it is probably even more common than other sports due to being a contact sport with no head protection.
How do we prevent dental and facial trauma in Jiu Jitsu? Facial trauma prevention comes in technique. That comes down to your training. Dental prevention comes from what you wear. For this, we have several options.
On the less-expensive and lesser-quality end of the spectrum are the custom-fit, at-home mouthpieces. These are the ones that you boil in water and mold in your mouth. You will probably buy them at a sporting goods store or drug store. These are more than adequate for entry-level sports.
For mid-level sports, you have mid-level mouthpieces. These are custom-fit in a dental office by dental personnel. These will cost significantly more than the do-it-yourself type, but the protection that you receive from this type will be significantly improved.
For top-end athletics, you have custom-fit, laboratory-fabricated mouthpieces. A dentist will make an impression of your inner mouth sometimes using an advanced 3D imaging machine if you have a more complex dental needs and a laboratory technician will fabricate a mouthpiece that is custom-fit just for you. The laboratory can fabricate this in either hard acrylic or a soft rubber-like material.
The cost that you spend on a mouthpiece will be far less than the cost of the treatment necessary if an injury does occur. Imagine the cost of crowns, root canals, dental implants, hospital visits, trips to the dentist, x-rays and any other diagnostics. The list and cost can go on and on.
Now let’s talk briefly about several of the common dental and facial injuries that can occur in Jiu Jitsu. These include avulsion, misplaced tooth, cracked tooth, busted lip and facial/eye laceration.
An avulsion is a tooth that has come completely out of its socket. If this occurs, immediately place the tooth in a glass of whole milk if available. If whole milk is not available, wrap in a moist paper towel. DO NOT attempt to clean the tooth. There are live cells on the outside of the tooth that can help the tooth reattach to the inside of the socket.
Once the tooth has been placed in milk or a paper towel, proceed to your nearest dental clinic or emergency room. They will be able to do the appropriate diagnostic tests to determine if the tooth will be able to be saved.
A misplaced tooth is one that has suffered trauma, is still in its socket but is not in its same location. There could be damage to the surrounding bony structures that hold the tooth in place. You will need x-rays to make sure you don’t have any broken bones.
Prevention and Treatment of Head Injury in Jiu Jitsu
A cracked tooth occurs when you have sustained a force to a tooth. When this occurs, proceed as quickly as you can to your nearest dental clinic. Time is of the essence. If the crack has gone deeply enough, you may have involved the pulp of the tooth. If this the case, the pulp will start to die off soon and you may need a root canal.
A busted lip is a term for a laceration, or cut, of the lip. If the laceration is not too deep this may be able to be controlled by yourself. If the bleeding cannot be controlled, proceed to your nearest emergency room. You may need to have a couple of stitches placed.
Outside of minor cuts, you may have underlying facial trauma which could include damage to the bones of the head and neck. These bones are very delicate in this area. They can be fractured very easily. Some of them lie in very close contact with the brain and spinal cord.
Finally, make it a part of your regular routine to do a thorough health check with your health professionals. Prevention is always the best medicine so identifying any potential traumas or injuries before they become serious will help you maintain your optimal health as a Jiu Jitsu practitioner.