This article originally appeared on ScooterDad.com and has been reposted here for posterity.
Chicks dig scars, but they also dig a full set of teeth!
Last Friday, my scooter kid, Paxton, and I went up to Sammamish, WA for the Lucky Summer Blow Out tour. He had never ridden Sammamish before and he was having a great day until horror struck. Paxton was trying to clear a quarter pipe to ledge gap when he came up short and clipped his rear wheel. The impact stopped his forward momentum but his head kept moving and he smacked his mouth right on his handlebars.
From across the park, I heard a blood-chilling scream as the park went completely silent. I snapped my head toward the sound and realized it was Paxton screaming, “KENNY! KENNY! KENNY!”. I leapt out of my seat and sprinted across the skate park as all the riders stopped and cleared the way for a terrified dad running to his kid. As I got closer, I could see that Paxton was holding his hands over his mouth. He was covered in blood from his mouth to his elbows and he was repeatedly yelling, “Kenny! I chipped my tooth!”.
Teefers, Don’t Fail Me Now!
I don’t do well with injuries and I’m especially bad with anything teeth related. Paxton had the tooth fragment in his hand and I grabbed it so we wouldn’t lose it. The next 5 minutes were a blur of the two of us walking around the skate park trying to figure out what to do as we were now both covered in blood. Thankfully, Debbie Kier and a nurse at the park named Trish were able to help assess the situation and make a recommendation: we had to find a dentist now.
By now, some of the bleeding had slowed, so we got in the car and headed in the direction that people said we might be able to find a dentist. I was shocked to discover that nearly all dentists, at least in Sammamish, don’t work on Fridays. Finally, after 3 closed dental offices, we found one that was open: Michael A. MacInnes Aesthetic & Family Dentistry.
Dr. MacInnes and his hygienist Meghan were amazing. They were helpful, professional, compassionate, and kind. They were able to see us right away and they built Paxton’s broken tooth up with composite material to give it a fuller tooth appearance. They also put a stitch in his lip to help with the healing. I really can’t say enough good things about how kind and friendly Dr. MacInnes and Meghan were. If we lived in this area, I would definitely go back to them as our regular dentist.
And the Hits Keep Coming
Unfortunately, the crappy day doesn’t end there. An hour later, Paxton’s stitch fell out of his lip so we had to find an urgent care center to stitch him up since the dental office was now closed. We ended up at an urgent care facility that was…well…if can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. (Did I mention how great Dr. MacInnes and his staff were to us?) Two hours, several needles, and 3 stitches later, we were on the road still 4 hours from home.
I’ve described this hellish experience because I think it’s important to realize what you can avoid. If Paxton were wearing some kind of mouth protection, we may not have had to endure any of this. I can think of 4 scooter riders off the top of my head who have suffered varying degrees of tooth injuries from chips to complete loss of both top front teeth. I really don’t ever want to have to deal with teeth problems ever again. Dr. MacInnes urged that Paxton wear a mouth guard and I was already on the same page.
Smile and Say “Cheese”
After speaking with our orthodontist and dentist, as well as doing some reading online, we discovered that custom dental-fit mouth guards are the best, but not for someone Paxton’s age with a retainer and shifting teeth. They recommended a regular boil-and-mold mouth guard that you can find at a sporting goods store.
In finding a mouth guard, the trick was getting Paxton something that was easy to use and, ironically, easy to not use. That is, it’s unrealistic to think he will keep it in 100% of the time while at the skate park, so I wanted him to be able to take it out to talk or drink when he’s not riding. Because of this, a tether was high on our feature list. We also wanted a mouth guard we could reform as his teeth shifted (he’s currently using a palate spreader from his orthodontist) and we wanted something minimally invasive so he could breathe easily while riding.
After looking at several brands and models, we decided on the Shock Doctor Ultra STC in youth size, which is about $20 and has all the features we were looking for, including the tether which we have secured to Paxton’s helmet strap. Shock Doctor makes mouth guards in many different styles and colors and they even have a cool protective case you can buy for when it’s not in use.
The mouth guard comes with directions, but the basic process is as follows:
- Boil water in a sauce pan
- Remove sauce pan from heat and immediately drop mouth guard in hot water for 2 minutes
- After 2 minutes in hot water, remove with a slotted spoon and rinse with cold water for 2 seconds to prevent burning of your mouth
- Quickly lick your lips, teeth, and gums and insert the mouth guard
- Center the mouth guard and then bite, suck, and push on your lips to ensure a proper mold to your mouth as you hold for 30 seconds
- Remove and cool in cold water to set mold (semi-) permanently
- If the mold doesn’t fit right, start over and do the whole thing again
We will have to redo Paxton’s mouth guard every 3 weeks or so because of his changing teeth and his orthodontist has instructed us to always use the mouth guard without his retainer, including while setting the mold. Like his helmet, this will become a required piece of equipment for riding.
If Only He Regrew Teeth Like a Shark…
Paxton is doing a lot better now and his stitches will be removed later this week, but he will likely need further dental work later on, such as a root canal, crown, veneer, or implant. I really hope that someone else will read this and help their kid use a mouth guard to avoid permanent and costly dental damage. Freestyle scootering is a dangerous sport, and you can’t wrap your kid in bubble wrap, but a mouth guard is a cheap and easy way to protect against irreparable damage to your teeth. Now go scoot and have fun knowing you’ll have those pearly whites for smiling at babes. :o)
Addendum: August 24, 2012
The mouth guard has been a huge success with Paxton. He wears it all the time to protect his teeth. In fact, he has 2 now and we’ve upgraded to orthodontal mouth guards because they fit so much better. When they fit better, they are more comfortable and take up less space in his mouth. This allows him to speak better while wearing it. I’ll often look up in the rear view mirror in our car on the way home from a skate park to see him still wearing his helmet with the mouth guard still in. He says it’s comfortable and he likes it. Who am I to argue?!
I continue to hear stories about kids busting their teeth while scootering and yet Paxton is the only kid I see wearing a mouth guard. I wish this trend would catch on before kids break their teeth.