Horseback riding is a fun way to spend some time outdoors, enjoying the beautiful countryside around Rochester, but it can also be dangerous. Horses are very powerful animals, and when you’re on horseback, you’re elevated and vulnerable to falls, especially if you’re just an occasional rider. The recent, serious dental injuries to a young girl remind us that it’s important to be careful when riding a horse and be prepared to respond if you experience a dental injury.
A Serious Riding Injury
A young teen was out with friends and family when the horse in front of her kicked up, hitting her in the face. She was knocked unconscious and when she came to, she spit out several of her teeth. She also suffered serious facial injury, including multiple cuts and fractures.
She had to have surgery to pin and plate her jaw back together, and ultimately lost five teeth.
She is recovering, and looks forward to when she can get dental implants to replace her lost teeth.
How Common Are Riding Injuries?
We don’t have any figures about tooth injuries related to recreational riding.However, we do know that tooth injuries are relatively common in competitive riders, such as show jumpers. A recent study showed that about 15% of show jumpers had personally experienced tooth injury while riding. And about twice that many had witnessed an accident that resulted in a tooth trauma.
Although the injury rate is likely lower for recreational riders, nearly 80,000 people go to the hospital emergency room for riding-related injuries. Many more people experience injuries that don’t require emergency care.
Protect Your Teeth from Trauma
It’s important to do what you can to protect your teeth from trauma in any recreational activity, especially sports where dental injury is likely. So how can you protect your teeth from riding injuries? Here are some tips:
- Wear helmets that meet appropriate safety standards
- Wear protective clothing
- Wear a mouthguard
- Inspect all riding equipment to make sure it’s in good condition and properly fitted
- Novice riders should take lessons before riding
- Don’t ride when fatigued or under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Don’t approach a horse from behind
- When riding in a line, always give enough space to the horse ahead of you
- Always ride to your skill level. Don’t try maneuvers and stunts you’re not prepared for.
These steps can hopefully help you avoid a riding injury. But what do you do if you suffer a tooth injury while riding?
How to Deal with Tooth Injury while Horseback Riding
Before dealing with a tooth injury, check for symptoms of serious head or brain injury. Blurred vision, unconsciousness, memory problems, difficulty speaking, loss of motor control, and other symptoms show that a serious brain injury may have occurred. That needs to take precedence. But even in that case, you can take some steps to help with tooth injury while someone else is dealing with head trauma or while you wait for assistance.
If teeth are broken, chipped, or avulsed, make sure you get them out of the mouth so the person doesn’t swallow them.
Assess chipped or cracked teeth to see if they need emergency attention. First, look at the chipped surface. If the damage revealed a different color interior, call a dentist immediately. Next, suck in air over the tooth. If it is very sensitive, the tooth pulp may have been exposed, and it needs to be evaluated. Otherwise, you probably don’t need emergency attention, unless you have an emergency need for a cosmetic smile repair.
Loose teeth should be considered an emergency if they move vertically or move independently when you turn or nod your head. Even if a tooth is a little loose, you should avoid chewing on it.
If a tooth has been knocked out, pick it up carefully by the crown (the enamel). Rinse the root off gently with water if it’s dirty, but don’t brush it or touch it with your hand. Then put the tooth in water or saliva. If a person is conscious, they can hold a knocked out tooth between their cheek and gum to preserve it. Contact us for an emergency appointment.